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Climate-friendly, sustainable, and affordable

Groundbreaking ceremony for the new Helmholtz Institute for Renewable Energy

Printable photovoltaics and innovative technologies for hydrogen storage: They are part of the vision of a climate-neutral and sustainable energy supply at acceptable costs. The necessary fundamentals, materials, and technologies will be researched and developed at the new Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN). Today, the first cut of the spade for the new 32-million-euro research building was made at the campus area of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU). The Forschungszentrum Jülich operates the new Institute as an external branch in cooperation with the FAU and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB). The partners will combine their expertise in in the areas of materials, energy, and process research.

Semiconductor layers that are easily and cost-effectively printed with ink of silica nanoparticles in great quantities and film-thin: They are the basis of the efficient and high quality solar cells of the future, which will be developed at the HI ERN. To utilize solar and wind energy more efficiently than hitherto, affordable and suitable energy storage systems are necessary. One promising storage technology is hydrogen: The energy stored therein can be transformed emission-free in electricity. The scientists at HI ERN want to research and optimize materials and processes relevant for innovative hydrogen technologies, for example for more efficient electrocatalysts or for hydrogen storage using Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) systems.

“The cooperation of experts from different fields under one roof, embedded in the outstanding innovation landscape Erlangen-Nürnberg, is the basis for the development in recent technologies, especially in the course of the energy revolution”, said founding director Prof. Peter Wasserscheid in his welcoming address. Prof. Karl Mayrhofer, also director of the HI ERN, agreed: “The new HI ERN facility with its excellent infrastructure will be an attractive and inspiring home for highly motivated and creative researchers. Furthermore, we want fellow researchers and the population to be able to access and experience the latest research in the field of renewable energies.”

The planned institutional building in Erlangen accommodates laboratories and offices on about 3,200 square meters und has room for about 110 members of staff. It will be finished in December 2019. The Free State of Bavaria will finance the entire building project. The core funding of € 5,5 million annually for staff, service, and investments will be provided according to the Helmholtz key at a ratio of 90 percent by the federal government and 10 percent by the state. Additionally, the Free State of Bavaria has been funding scientific projects with € 1 million annually since 2014 until 2018.

Groundbreaking ceremony from aboveCut of the spade at the construction field of the research building of the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN).
Copyright: Kurt Fuchs / HI ERN

Comments on the groundbreaking ceremony

Ilse Aigner, the Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy, and Technology, emphazised: “Bavaria is an internationally prominent location for innovation and technology. Especially in the sector of renewable energy, the Free State of Bavaria is market-leading in Germany. We want to continue this success story with the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN): Therefore, the Bavarian Government provides € 32 million federal state funds for the new construction of the HI ERN. Thereby, Frankonia not only receives the first new research building of the Helmholtz Institute; with this investment, we extend Bavaria’s leading position, inter alia, in the field of the exploration of hydrogen as a storage medium.”

“An affordable and socially acceptable energy revolution thrives on research, innovation, and fresh ideas. For that we need top-class facilities like ‚HI ERN‘,“ added Stefan Müller, MdB, Parliamentary Secretary of State to the Federal Minister for Education and Research.

Prof. Joachim Hornegger, President of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) highlighted: “Energy, materials, and process research, which is focused on at HI-ERN, has been an outstanding field of competence of the FAU for a long time. For many years, we have achieved internationally acknowledged successes in basic research. Not least because of this, the decision was made to establish the Helmholtz Institute for research on and development in renewable energy systems at the FAU near our Cluster of Excellence EAM. We are very pleased to be able to continue the proven cooperation of the partners involved in the socially significant field of renewable energy in a modern and central research building.”

Prof. Harald Bolt, Member of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich explained: “With the new building of HI ERN, ideal conditions will be created for the scientists to drive the excellent research forward to a sustainable and affordable energy system.”

Prof. Otmar Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association: “The production, storage, and distribution of sustainable energy is one of the biggest societal challenges of our time. The outstanding scientists of the Helmholtz Association conduct research in order to find solutions for these complex challenges. The research in the field of energy is a major scientific part of the energy revolution. Together with our partners in Erlangen, the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg will make a decisive contribution.”

Dr. Florian Janik, Lord Mayor of Erlangen: “Erlangen is an innovative and attractive research location. With the Helmholtz Institute here in Erlangen, I am delighted to have another prestigious research institute dedicating itself to the important future topic of renewable energies.”


Prof. Karl Mayrhofer, Director HI ERN
Tel.: +49 9131 85-20843
E-Mail: k.mayrhofer@fz-juelich.de

Prof. Peter Wasserscheid, Director HI ERN
Tel.: +49 9131 85-20843
E-Mail: p.wasserscheid@fz-juelich.de

Press contact:

Dr. Carolin Meyer
Tel.: + 49 (0)172/8580713
E-Mail: ca.meyer@fz-juelich.de

Dr. Susanne Langer
Tel.: +49 (0)9131 85-70200
E-Mail: susanne.langer@fau.de

Forschungszentrum Jülich:
Erhard Zeiss, M.A.
Press officer
Tel.: +49 (0)2461 61-1841
E-Mail: e.zeiss@fz-juelich.de

Additional Information