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Forschungszentrum Jülich - Annual Report 2011

Annual Report 2011 | Forschungszentrum Jülich 19 among the most important forces driv- ing the transformation of the energy system. On campus, several ongoing projects show that we can do just this. Examples include the creation of the photovoltaic pilot plant, collaboration with the new Helmholtz institutes in Er- langen and Münster pursuing basic re- search on materials for renewable ener- gies and stationary batteries, as well as work on green coal technologies. Are these efforts not hindered by the interdisciplinary orientation of Forschungszentrum Jülich? On the contrary. Research in the three fields of energy and environment, health and information technology is not isolat- ed here at Jülich but closely entwined. One of the factors connecting them is materials science. Take the develop- ment of corrosion-resistant materials. They can be used for power plant boil- ers, while simultaneously being applied in medical engineering. Another factor linking the various re- search areas are the tools that we de- velop, such as those for research with neutrons or for electron microscopy and spectroscopy. They too can be used to clarify a variety of different issues. Re- search with neutrons does not just pro- vide physicists with new insights; biolo- gists also benefit. Electron microscopy helps to provide energy researchers with answers to key questions. Some- times this happens when least expect- ed. Interdisciplinarity alone makes such welcome surprises possible. tions must be classed as “sustainable” today; otherwise they don’t really count as solutions. Our aim is to develop ge- neric key technologies to allow very dif- ferent disciplines to approach their questions from a completely different angle. The benefit of this, for example, becomes clear when it comes to the huge challenge of transforming the en- ergy system: we can use our core com- petencies of materials science and mod- elling as well as simulation not just to address specific individual issues but al- so to make valuable contributions to all options for a future energy supply. In other words, we’re already on the right track! However, we plan to notably in- crease our commitment to energy and climate research because transforming the energy system is the biggest chal- lenge facing our generation. What exactly do you have in mind? A sustainable energy supply will only be possible in the future if we succeed in using fossil fuels more efficiently, in re- fining stationary storage technologies, in tapping new energy sources and in in- creasing the share of renewables in the energy mix. Today, Jülich already invests around € 108 million every year in re- search focusing on the future energy supply. We intend to seriously increase this commitment. Because we don’t pursue energy and climate research as separate fields but have concentrated them instead in one large institute, and we also incorporate substantial contributions to energy re- search made by other institutes, we are optimally positioned to do so. As one of the large interdisciplinary research cen- tres in Europe, we must strive to be “We work towards comprehensive solutions for the grand challenges facing society in the future. Such solutions must be classed as ‘sustainable’ today; otherwise they don’t really count as solutions.” Prof. Achim Bachem