The research project Trans4ReaL, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), was launched on April 1st, 2021. This project complements the living labs for the energy transition (living labs) set up by the BMWi to stimulate innovation in the energy transition, with a focus on hydrogen technologies and sector coupling. The research performed in Trans4Real adds an academic dimension to these practical applications, as well as evaluating the findings of the living labs on an overarching basis in preparation for wider use. In addition to the FfE, the interdisciplinary consortium consists of Dechema Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e. V., dem The hydrogen and fuel cell center ZBT GmbH, Agora Energiewende, Stiftung Umweltenergierecht, WWU University of Münster and TU München – Hochschule für Politik.
Living labs for the energy transition
The BMWi sees great potential for the energy transition in green hydrogen technologies and launched the ideas contest "Reallabore der Energiewende" (living labs for the energy transition) in early 2019. Out of a total of 90 participants, 20 consortia were invited to submit applications. The majority of the funded living labs will test new hydrogen technologies on an industrial scale under real conditions. These living labs with focus on sector coupling and hydrogen technologies receive scientific support from the transfer research project Trans4ReaL.
The FfE’s role in Trans4Real
As the leader of the assembled interdisciplinary consortium, the FfE is responsible for the overall project management within Trans4ReaL. In addition to this vital organizational role, the researchers of the FfE will also be actively investigating the following topics in the context of Trans4Real:
- Overarching academic accompaniment of living labs
- Life cycle assessment of different hydrogen pathways
- Integration of the findings of the living labs into the energy system using energy system analysis
- Analysis of potential markets, future business models, and regulatory barriers
- Derivation of fields of action and transfer of the findings into a roadmap
Figure 1: Trans4Real project structure
Transfer and generalization of knowledge from the living labs
The overall goal of transfer research is the generalization of the findings from living labs in order to make them usable in a wider context. On 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 generalizable knowledge in higher-level analyses, which are fed back to the living labs in the form of learning experiences. Findings are mirrored in the real-world laboratories, integrated into the analyses, and processed for the funding agency and other affected and involved groups.
The collaboration with the living labs has the explicit goal of representing added value for them. Depending on the needs of the real-world laboratories, Trans4Real can for example provide site-specific analyses or investigations into the possibility of upscaling the technology, among other possible forms of value creation. The insights into the living labs gained by Trans4ReaL also enable networking between the living labs on specific topics. Thus, synergies will be leveraged, and the foundation laid to address future challenges efficiently and effectively.
In a final step, the scientific results generated during the Trans4ReaL project and the learning experiences from the living labs will be synthesized into options for action for the BMWi and other stakeholders. These options for action are based on goals collaboratively developed with the BMWi within the project and will be the subject of several progress reports over the course of the project. In this way, the project supports the German federal government in the implementation of the National Hydrogen Strategy, for example by providing input for the development of a roadmap (measure 23).
These hydrogen-focused living labs for the energy transition are not the only initiatives in this field in Germany and Europe. Trans4ReaL plays a key role here, on the one hand to encourage closer networking between the initiatives and on the other hand to present results from the research of the living labs to the public. In this context, the hydrogen research network initiated by the BMWi is worth mentioning, which is intended to bundle and synchronize research in this field in Germany.
Figure 2: Tans4ReaL as a connecting link between different hydrogen initiatives
Funding and project partners
The planned transfer research tasks 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 and the energy system, as well as future energy scenarios and the development of markets, must be incorporated. Finally, an understanding of international developments in the fields of politics and legislation is necessary. These requirements are met by the interdisciplinary consortium.
Figure 3: The Trans4Real consortium
The Trans4Real project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) (funding code: 03EIV116).
If you are interested in the project, just contact us. The Trans4ReaL team is looking forward to a successful cooperation!