Energy Systems of the Future

Initiative of the German Academies of Sciences

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This is what the future could look like in 2050: Electricity is mainly generated from wind and solar power. Cars are fuelled with electricity or hydrogen. Buildings are so well insulated that they no longer require heating.

How do we get there? What remains to be explored? And how is the transition towards a more sustainable energy supply to be financed? The Academies’ Project “Energy Systems of the Future” provides answers to these questions.

Current issues


Greenwashing or Climate Saviour? Academies Highlight the Need for Action in the Voluntary Carbon Market.

The voluntary carbon market was one of the central themes of the international climate conference (COP 28) in Dubai in November 2023. The aim was to strengthen the integrity of this mechanism and so enable more sustainable private climate funding. After all, whether the voluntary market does actually protect the climate is subject to debate – and often difficult for consumers to gauge. The Academies’ Project “Energy Systems of the Future” (ESYS) highlights the areas where action is needed in the voluntary market and how it can make a more effective contribution to climate protection in the future.


Fracking: an option for Germany? Science academies identify opportunities, risks and uncertainties

Fracking in unconventional reservoirs was banned in Germany in 2016 and since then seemed to have been shelved. However, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has created new conditions for German energy policy and severely restricted the availability of natural gas for Germany. How can the gas, which is no longer being supplied, be replaced? This question will continue to be of significance for Germany's energy supply in the years to come. Could fracking make a relevant contribution to the security of supply? The Academy's Project “Energy Systems of the Future” (ESYS) discusses the opportunities and risks of fracking and identifies uncertainties.


Creating Investment Incentives, Providing Reserve Capacity: options for the market integration of renewable energy

A massive expansion of renewable energy is key to achieving a climate-neutral energy supply. However, it is also associated with high investment costs, low returns for electricity producers at certain times, and a limited supply of electricity during periods with little wind or sunshine. Experts from the Academies’ Project “Energy Systems of the Future” (ESYS) have investigated how renewables can nevertheless be effectively and efficiently integrated into the market. Their conclusions include the following two key findings. Firstly, in order to provide adequate support for renewable energy, cross-sectoral carbon pricing will need to be accompanied by market premiums in the short-term. And secondly, various market models should be considered for providing the necessary reserve capacity.

„The energy transition is crucial in achieving the Paris Agreement’s central goal to keep the global average temperature below 2° C. The Academies’ Project ESYS can make a major contribution to accomplish this turn.“

Gerald Haug
President of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

„The crises of the last two years have made it even clearer that the energy transition cannot wait. Academies bundle knowledge for society and thus also knowledge for the energy transition.“

Christoph Markschies
President of the Union of German Academies

„Only by working together as a global community can we succeed in solving global issues such as the energy transition. This requires modern technologies, cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary, cross-border projects such as ESYS.“

Jan Wörner
acatech President