The coalition agreement between the three governing parties in Brandenburg contains a number of remarkable goals with respect to research. In particular, the implementation of its individual hydrogen strategy, in addition to the national hydrogen strategy, is trendsetting. If the underground as a storage option is included here, then the chances are good that Brandenburg will develop into a hydrogen showcase region.
The high emphasis given to climate protection and sustainability in the coalition agreement is likewise extremely pleasing. Furthermore, highlighting forests and moors in this agreement is justified as they are of essential importance for the carbon balance. There still remains a great need for research in this area in order to better quantify carbon fluxes.
However, in addition to the urgently needed reduction of greenhouse gases, it is also necessary to research and establish measures to adapt to the consequences of climate change. This “adaptation” is of central importance and we must use all options that contribute to emission reduction and adaptation. This includes underground CO2 storage that has been researched and tested in Brandenburg and already used in an international context, as well as modern plant breeding methods and agricultural technology. Science can show farmers and foresters options for adapting to changing climatic conditions.
The plans for the Lausitz region are extremely encouraging. Developing this region into a model region for highly innovative and research-intensive transformation processes is the correct strategy. I have been active there for more than 25 years, and our vision for the recultivation of the Lausitz mining landscapes was, at the time, initially regarded as utopia. Now we are seeing the first successes: a lake landscape is emerging that is larger than the Mecklenburg Lake District. Our plans are taking shape. This also holds true for the concept of an Albrecht Thaer Science Campus in Cottbus, jointly devised with the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and numerous non-university research institutions in Brandenburg State. Here, the great and historically acquired competences in the field of land use are to be brought together in order to develop the Lausitz region as a field laboratory for a sustainable bioeconomy.
With financing from the government’s structural funds and with considerable patience, not only can important structural change processes be accomplished in the Lausitz region, but also the decarbonisation of industry can be driven forward in the sense of the energy transition. Battery research and Power-to-X are important here. What I do miss, however, is a mention of geothermal energy and the use of the underground for heat storage as equally important building blocks in the energy mix of the future. Here we have great economic potential and internationally recognised research that is already very closely linked to application.
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Hüttl is Chairman of the Board and Scientific Executive Director of GFZ