The Ministry of Economics, Labour and Tourism is funding the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) with around 14.25 million euros for a new building project as well as for the expansion of the equipment infrastructure in the research of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. “With the funding of the ZSW, we can make a targeted contribution to the research of hydrogen technologies and thus also to climate protection,” explained Economics Minister Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut on Wednesday (23 February) at the handover of the funding notifications in Ulm.
The funds come from the European Union’s programme “Investments for Growth and Jobs to Support Crisis Management in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and to Prepare for a Green, Digital and Stable Economic Recovery (REACT-EU)”. “REACT-EU funding will allow us to make targeted investments in the performance of our business-related research institutions. This enables the expansion of technology transfer and thus the strengthening of the innovative power and competitiveness of our medium-sized companies,” she continued.
The ZSW is one of the leading institutes of industry-related research for renewable energies and energy storage technologies and conducts research in the fields of photovoltaics, renewable fuels, battery technology and fuel cells as well as energy system analysis. In these technologies, the ZSW covers the entire value chain: from materials research to the development of prototypes and production processes to application systems, quality tests and market analyses. The concepts and analyses that the Institute prepares for politics and industry also help to bring the technologies to market.
7.75 million euros in funding for fuel cell research in Ulm
The ZSW location in Ulm is being supported with 7.75 million euros. A new building is to be constructed there for the second expansion stage of the so-called HyFab project for fuel cell research. In this new building, the technical equipment of which is largely funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport, production processes for scaling up the processes to industrial production standards will be researched within the framework of a platform open to interested industrial companies. In the adjoining seminar wing, regular seminars and further training courses on fuel cell topics are offered for industrial and trade companies.
The groundbreaking ceremony for this project also took place on 23 February in the presence of Minister Hoffmeister-Kraut. “With the HyFab concept, the ZSW is expanding its status as a beacon for fuel cell research in Germany and offering interested companies support in setting up production capacities within the framework of an open and flexible platform,” Hoffmeister-Kraut emphasised.
In addition, the Stuttgart location of the ZSW will receive funding of 4 million euros to expand the existing laboratory infrastructure in the field of research into hydrogen technologies. This is intended to create the conditions for upscaling hydrogen generation technologies and technologies for CO2 supply from the air to the multi-megawatt scale.
A further 2.498 million euros will be used to realise a structural extension at the Stuttgart site in order to create the spatial prerequisites for an expansion of perovskite research in the research area “photovoltaics” as well as for industrialisation in the topics “electrolysis” and “CO2 extraction from air”.
EU funding for the transition to a climate-friendly, digital and resilient economy
“The Corona pandemic has hit our economy and labour market hard. Challenges such as accelerating digitalisation, harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence and transforming industry and society towards a carbon-free economy have once again been greatly highlighted by the crisis. We are very grateful for the funds from the EU. They help us decisively to launch projects for the transition to a climate-friendly, digital and resilient economy,” said Hoffmeister-Kraut.
The funds from REACT-EU make it possible to implement projects that would otherwise only be possible with difficulty or not at all, for example because federal or state funds are not available for them. The funding from REACT-EU is all the more helpful because no additional funding is required from the state or the funded research institutions, said the Minister. “With these projects, we are providing targeted impulses with the highest possible multiplier effect for a stable recovery of the economy in the sense of the European Green Deal. At the same time, we are supporting the innovative capacity of our small and medium-sized enterprises in particular,” said the Economics Minister.
REACT-EU stands for “Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe” and is part of the “NextGenerationEU” recovery instrument, with which the EU is providing 750 billion euros to deal with the Corona pandemic and its economic and social consequences. REACT-EU is implemented in Baden-Württemberg, among others, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, in which the Ministry of Economics is involved. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has approximately 47 million euros at its disposal from REACT-EU to support research infrastructure geared towards the transition to a digital and green economy.
The Centre for Solar Energy and WaterSoil Research is a member of the Innovationsallianz Baden-Württemberg e.V. The 12 institutes of the Innovationsallianz are important partners of industry in technology transfer and form a bridge between basic research and development in companies. They successfully conduct research in the growth fields of the future, along which the new state government is orienting its technology policy. The technical spectrum of the research work ranges from microelectronics, computer science, biotechnology and medical technology to laser technology and renewable energies. The institutes receive annual basic funding from the Ministry of Economics totalling around 35 million euros.