04.2021 - 03.2026

Trans4Real – Knowledge transfer of the living labs for the energy transition

Hydrogen as an energy carrier plays a leading role in all current system studies and the German hydrogen strategy also points out that a climate-neutral Germany needs a functioning hydrogen economy.

In order to accelerate the transition to economic viability for hydrogen technologies, among other things, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK) has launched the Energy Transition living labs funding programme. Even though hydrogen is used in individual industrial sectors, the breadth of technologies along the process chain from production to transport to application is still in its infancy. The realisation of these technologies on an industrial scale is the task of the living labs. In this way, the living labs bring the technologies into practice.

The findings on challenges, obstacles and successes of the living labs are scientifically classified and shared with science, politics and among the living labs in the Trans4ReaL project. Trans4ReaL acts as a mediator and disseminates the findings widely. Thus, Trans4ReaL scales the knowledge and makes it accessible to as many actors as possible.

Trans4ReaL scales hydrogen
Figure 1: Trans4ReaL scales hydrogen for a climate neutral future

Motivation and Project Objectives

The overarching goal of transfer research is the generalisation and utilisation of the findings from the living labs. On the one hand, the task is to accompany the living labs and to abstract, transfer and classify their technology-specific results. On the other hand, the results are to be processed into generalisable knowledge in higher-level analyses and fed back to the living labs in the form of learning experiences. These higher-level analyses will deal in particular with the topics of technologies, the energy system, markets and the social and political environment. Findings will be mirrored back to the living labs, integrated into the analyses and processed for the funding body and other affected and involved groups.

The cooperation with the living labs has the explicit goal of representing added value for them. Depending on the needs of the living lab, this can be done through, among other things, site-specific analyses or the investigation of the possibility of upscaling the technology. The insights gained by Trans4ReaL into the living labs also enable networking between the living labs on specific topics. Thus, synergies will be leveraged and the foundation laid for dealing with the tasks ahead efficiently and effectively.

The scientific results generated in the work of Trans4ReaL and the learning experiences from the living labs will finally be transferred into action approaches for the BMWK and other stakeholders in a synthesis process. These approaches address the need for action identified in the scientific analyses to enable and accelerate the market ramp-up of hydrogen. A first report with approaches for action was published in April 2023.

Project Structure

The Trans4ReaL project is divided into 3 levels: AP1 forms the accompaniment level, the work packages AP2 to AP5 the reflection level and AP6 the synthesis level.

Figure 2: The structure of Trans4ReaL

The accompaniment level serves as a trustworthy exchange platform with the living labs. The information shared in it is only passed on to the other work packages in consultation with the projects. The reflection level contains own scientific analyses that have the purpose of putting the results and findings of the living labs into a larger context in order to generalise them. The synthesis level, in turn, processes the results from the other two levels. In the process, focal points for action are identified and approaches for action are formulated.

The FfE’s project contents

The FfE is responsible for the project management in the Trans4ReaL project and focuses on the following topics:

  • Accompaniment of the living labs
  • Life cycle assessment of different hydrogen paths
  • Integration of the findings of the living labs into the energy system by means of energy system analysis
  • Analysis of potential markets, future business models and regulatory hurdles
  • Derivation and publication of approaches for action

Project Partners

The tasks of transfer research require a consortium that can approach the topic of integrating the findings of the living labs into the current developments of the energy transition from different perspectives. On the one hand, suitable networks are needed both in the energy industry and in the industrial sectors in which hydrogen is to be used in the future. Furthermore, expertise in the fields of hydrogen technologies, the energy system as well as future energy scenarios and the development of markets must be brought in. Last but not least, an understanding of international developments in the areas of politics and legislation is necessary.

In addition to the FfE, the interdisciplinary consortium consists of Dechema Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e. V., Zentrum für BrennstoffzellenTechnik GmbH, Agora Energiewende, Stiftung Umweltenergierecht, Ruhr Universität Bochum and TU München – Hochschule für Politik.

Figure 3: Partner in the project Trans4ReaL