Impressions from the first Helmholtz Energy Conference 2023
On June 12 and 13, 2023, the Helmholtz Research Field Energy met at the first Helmholtz Energy Conference "Tackling the Challenges of the Energy Transition" in Koblenz. Over 330 researchers from the Helmholtz research centers Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and associated partner IPP Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics came together to share recent advances in Helmholtz Energy research and to network together.
The conference was opened by Holger Hanselka, Helmholtz Vice President for the Research Field Energy and President of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
Another highlight on the opening day were the three keynotes at the beginning of the event: Katja Matthes, Helmholtz Vice President for the Research Field Earth and Environment and Director of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, emphasized the central importance of the energy system in combating climate change and pointed out the importance of cooperation between Helmholtz research fields on this central topic. Christian Sattler, Divisional Director for Energy and Transport at DLR and Director of the DLR Institute for Future Fuels, bridged the gap to the transport sector and the transformation of transport as a central component of the energy transition. Tilman Bechthold, Vice President Research and Development at RWE Power AG, gave an insight into the perspective of a traditional energy supplier on the energy transition and on the fundamental transformation of his company that this entails. Afterwards, the three plenary speakers and Holger Hanselka answered questions from Marc Oliver Bettzüge, Director of the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne, in a panel discussion on "Sustainable Energy Supply: Challenges and Opportunities".
In the following program, the participants split up into the first lecture sessions with technical presentations and came together again to continue the scientific discussions in the poster sessions. At the end of the day, a joint conference dinner invited to networking and casual exchange.
The opening of the second day of the conference again featured three plenary lectures: Daniela Jacob, Director of the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), impressively pointed out in her keynote that climate change and its effects pose a challenge to humanity that is unprecedented in its magnitude and emphasized the central role of energy research in developing and demonstrating solution options to combat climate change. Robert Wolf, director of the IPP in Greifswald, gave conference participants an overview of recent progress in fusion research and an outlook on upcoming large-scale experiments aimed at developing fusion technology into a major energy source for the second half of the century and beyond. Manuel Baumann from the KIT Institute of Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) gave an entertaining introduction to the methods of technology assessment and sustainability evaluation to the auditorium, underlined the central importance of inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation already in the development stage of technologies, and used several case studies to show the manifold possibilities but also the limitations of this branch of research.
The program was supported by a total of 120 presentations by doctoral candidates, post-docs and experienced researchers in 20 specialist sessions, as well as the poster session with over 50 contributions, which provided an opportunity to learn about current research progress at Helmholtz Energy and to discuss it with each other.