Germany: Electromobility, Important Topic For the Future
The German government wants one million electric cars to be on Germany's roads by 2020. But for that to happen, more research into electromobility will have to be done. The Helmholtz Association has been successfully pursuing electromobility research for many years, and it is now expanding that research with two new portfolio themes: Electromobility Research for Transportation Systems, and In-system Electrochemical Storage - Reliability and Integration.
Nine interdisciplinary institutes from the German Aerospace Center are working together on this portfolio theme. For many years they have been using their extensive expertise to close gaps identified in the areas of vehicles, assistance, and markets and users. Their goal now is to broaden our systemic understanding of electromobility and to help Germany become the leading supplier and market for electromobility. The National Development Plan for Electric Mobility outlines measures on how to achieve those ambitious goals. The National Platform on Electric Mobility describes those measures in greater detail and promotes direct dialogue between research, businesses, the government and the public.
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"As Germany's largest scientific organisation, the Helmholtz Association is actively involved in these debates. Its transport and energy programmes are making major contributions to research and development," says Prof. Jürgen Mlynek, President of the Helmholtz Association. "The many years that our scientists have spent researching electromobility, whether for vehicle power systems or for transportation and mobility management, are benefitting transport development and the environment."
Mobile energy storage solutions are the foundation of future-oriented vehicle powertrain systems. Stationary storage solutions need to play a role in providing green electricity on-demand. Efficient, affordable, user-friendly batteries will be a key technology for helping electromobility to become popular. Battery systems currently in development have very specific and often contradictory properties as a result of the diverse requirements they need to fulfil. "The participating Helmholtz Centres and their university partners have a wide range of expertise in this area, and this allows them to develop suitable solutions for these challenges," says Mlynek.
The researchers study the diverse application requirements at the system level and look at integrating and combining them in powertrain and storage systems, as well as at the cell and material level. The aim is to ensure that research is system-relevant, has clearly defined application-oriented goals early on, and can be drawn upon when integrating new development approaches.
It is particularly important that the gradual transition to these new technologies is designed in a way that achieves the goals set for electromobility and that wins acceptance in society. The way to do this is to continue developing conventional vehicle technology while also laying the groundwork for a successful roll-out of electromobility. It will also be important to offer solutions for closing known technology gaps in the infrastructure. This will require comprehensive, systemic research that embraces everything from transportation demand, user behaviour, and transportation and mobility management to new vehicle and infrastructure concepts, and the economic and ecological aspects of transport. The Helmholtz Association's systemic electromobility research reflects this type of broad-based approach.
Germany's Federal Government increased annual funding for the research organisations in the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation to enable them to address issues of direct relevance to the future of society, promote talented young scientists and make Germany's research system even more competitive and productive. The Helmholtz Association is using some of these additional funds to finance a number of portfolio themes that a panel of experts from all the Helmholtz Centres identified as particularly promising during a comprehensive evaluation process. University research partners, which provide indispensable expertise, will benefit from this funding as well. From the next funding period, work on the portfolio themes will be continued within regular research programmes.
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