The six topics provide the thematic framework for ENZo. In the sense of ENZo's goal of creating an overview of the energy system and strengthening interdisciplinary cooperation, the topics are not to be understood as separating units within ENZo. As an organisational element, they merely serve, for example, to allocate the doctoral subjects and the professional courses.
Each topic is supervised by two Topic Responsibles, who are in charge of the professional design of the topic and the associated qualification measures for the young researchers.
Renewable energy sources are pivotal for any future CO2-neutral energy system. From geothermal energy to photovoltaics, the topic spans from base-loadable to rather volatile sources. Both topics are intensely investigated at KIT with high international visibility and supported with modern research infrastructures and laboratories. To gather a holistic picture of the future energy mix, other renewable energy sources (wind, water, biomass ...) are discussed as needed and, if necessary, supplemented by external cooperations.
Sector Coupling Construction:
The focus of this topic is on integral energy concepts for buildings and quarters. Besides the energy optimization of buildings with regard to winter and summer thermal protection, strategies for local regenerative energy supply and storage are investigated on different scale levels (individual buildings - quarters) in order to achieve an emission-free energy supply. An important role will be played by the energy management and the sector coupling of heat and electricity at the quarter level; the main focus is on solutions for existing buildings.
Sector Coupling Industry:
The guiding question for this topic is "How can renewable energy be used to provide the chemical feedstocks and high-temperature heat needed for industrial processes, as well as fuels for aviation and heavy transport in a carbon neutral way?" Concepts for the electrification of chemical processes, novel electrochemical or electrocatalytic syntheses, and the use of green electricity to produce green hydrogen and green synthesis gas in combination with carbon dioxide and biogenic carbon sources must be advanced, along with the following processes to produce energy carriers from these basic materials that meet the specifications. Automation and smart process control through to fully remote-controlled, decentralized plants are important aspects of digitalization. The Energy Lab 2.0 with its various components is available as a development platform for this purpose.
In the production of materials and products, energy and raw materials are required, and emissions and waste are usually produced. The Green Deal announced by the EU combines the energy transition and the circular economy with the goal of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and conserve resources. The challenge of a climate-neutral circular economy requires particularly for energy-intensive industries, a shift toward the use of recycling streams, increased efficiency and the associated new technologies for material conversion and reorganization or optimization of value chains. The focus of the topic is on raw material and technology change for the implementation of a circular economy as well as the techno-economic and ecological assessment of processes and system changes.
Machine learning and digital tools:
The cross-cutting topic deals with methods and digital tools that are of central importance for processing of Topics 1 to 4. The methodological focus is put on modeling time series of energy consumption data using machine learning methods such as generative modeling. Thereby two goals are pursued: First, basic research to develop novel methods for a better representation of the energy domain (e.g., energy time series with large data sets using different temporal and spatial aggregations, incorporation of domain knowledge, AutoML - Automated Machine Learning) and second, the development of digital tools for the implementation of the gained knowledge in the real environment.
Humankind in the Energy System:
The topic addresses the analysis of the behavior of consumers (primarily households) in the energy system. On the one hand, data of test persons are collected by concrete experiments in real-world labs in order to analyze different dimensions (behavior, values, ...) in order to draw conclusions about the appropriate implementation of the goals of the energy transition. On the other hand the results are used to investigate the long-term effects on transformation pathways - in particular especially the change of values and attitudes over time.