Fraunhofer Strategic Research Field

Resource Efficiency and Climate Technologies

Symbol Ressourceneffizienz

The world’s natural resources are limited. Yet they are being consumed at ever faster rates by a growing global population. This leads to increasing competition and rising prices, especially for resources such as oil, cobalt and rare earths. At the same time, the extraction of natural resources causes environmental damage such as the release of greenhouse gases, pollution of our air, water and soil, and a decline in biodiversity.

A society can only ensure a sustainable future by learning to make efficient use of natural resources while still protecting the environment. As well as developing resource-and energy-efficient technologies, Fraunhofer researchers also help partners adopt a more holistic view of value chains. They strive to support the transition from the linear economic system that predominates worldwide to circular material flows, for example by promoting the re-use of plastics, most of which are still incinerated or channeled into soils and oceans. To this end, Fraunhofer experts seek ways of establishing and expanding the kind of sustainable production that can trigger deep-seated processes of social and economic change. Their focus includes sustainable growth strategies and lasting efficiencies that will impact all areas of value creation, fostering the development of sustainable economic systems such as the green economy, circular economy and bioeconomy.

Sector coupling is another key area of research in this context. Experts hope it will play a key role in achieving Germany’s ambitious climate goals and help the country meet its target of becoming climate-neutral by 2030. The idea is to steadily replace fossil fuels with renewables in the transport, industry and heat sectors. Sector coupling has the potential to create new business opportunities and significant optimization within an evolving energy system.

Scientists hope this will offer new, resilient answers to some of the fundamental challenges facing society today, such as resource and energy consumption, climate change and the long-term relationship between humankind and nature.

Fraunhofer Group for Energy Technologies and Climate Protection

The Fraunhofer Group for Energy Technologies and Climate Protection pools the expertise of the Fraunhofer Institutes and supports the implementation of the energy transition and climate neutrality in committees and research groups. By providing science-based advice, it accompanies policymakers and industry leaders in their commitment to combat climate change. The group exchanges with political decision-makers, associations and the wider public via targeted dialogue formats.

 

Fraunhofer Energy Alliance

Fields of research include digitization of the energy world, renewable energy sources, energy systems analyses and energy storage technologies as well as energy efficiency technologies and components for buildings, districts and cities.

 

Fraunhofer Research Factory for Battery Cells

 

Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE®

The Cluster Instiutes want to make the plastics value added chain circular, to extract fewer fossil resources, to make products smarter, and to reduce end-of-life losses. The switchover from a linear to a circular plastics economy only succeeds with a multi-stakeholder approach.

Cluster of Excellence Integrierte Energiesysteme CINES

The "Integrated Energy Systems" research cluster is carried by the joint vision of transforming Fraunhofer into the lead research institution for applied energy research. As such, the cluster addresses the central technical and economic challenges of the next phase of the global energy transition: the system and market integration of high shares of variable renewable energy sources into the energy system. 

 

Competence network
OceanTechnologies@
Fraunhofer

 

Lighthouse project FutureProteins

FutureProteins – Coupled agricultural systems for a resilient and sustainbale production of high-quality food proteins.

 

Web special

Green gains

Sustainability – the tie that binds ecology and the economy closer together

Impact on society as a whole

Energiewende accomplished

The Energiewende – Germany’s ongoing transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy – is the subject of research by a number of Fraunhofer Institutes. By pooling this expertise, Fraunhofer is able to take a broader and more holistic view of the shift toward renewables, addressing it from multiple perspectives including economic and technological aspects as well as environmental and social factors. This lays the foundations for a successful transition to a new energy era.

The institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are conducting research into numerous fields of technology relevant to the Energiewende, ranging from renewables and energy efficiency technologies to smart energy networks, digitalization of the energy sector and energy storage technologies. Our goal is to offer our customers pioneering and competitive system-level products that represent a sound investment.
 
We work with small and medium-sized enterprises, industrial enterprises and the energy sector, providing them with access to a wide range of research and development offerings that are geared to help them achieve success with innovative products and win new markets. Fraunhofer has all the necessary in-house expertise to act as a one-stop solution provider. 

All its activities are aimed at accomplishing the goals of the Energiewende by creating a sustainable, secure, affordable and socially just energy system.

Fully circular economy

Several million tonnes of waste are produced each year, ranging from construction waste, scrap wood and municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash to carbon fiber-reinforced composites and electronic waste. With resources becoming scarcer and sustainability moving up the political agenda, the time has come to move away from our current mostly linear approach to resource use and switch to a circular economy.

A circular economy is the opposite of the "take, make, dispose" model of production that still prevails today. In our current linear or “throw-away” economy, most of the natural resources we use are sent to landfill or incinerated once a product reaches the end of its useful life. Only a small proportion is re-used or recycled. In contrast, a circular economy promotes a renewable or regenerative system of industrial production. Its goal is to minimize the use of resources and the generation of waste and emissions and to make a more efficient use of energy. This can be achieved by slowing, narrowing and closing energy and material loops. Key tools for this purpose include long-lasting design, maintenance, refurbishing, repair, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling. 

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft actively seeks to help shape the transition from today’s primarily linear economy to a circular economy. It does this by conducting research into the necessary systemic, technical and social innovations and the new value creation networks these innovations entail.