Mitigation

Limiting the increase in the global mean temperature to below 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial level is fundamentally possible - this is shown by the "IPCC special report on 1.5 ° C global warming" of the IPCC. If humanity succeeds, the risks and possible damage could be significantly reduced compared to a temperature rise of 2 degrees or more. On the one hand, however, this requires rapid and far-reaching emission reductions in many socially and economically important areas. On the other hand, in addition to a strong reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide (CO2) would also have to be extracted directly from the atmosphere in order to achieve so-called "negative emissions". This can be done, for example, by afforestation, rewetting of bogs or technical processes. The resulting CO2 can also be converted back into energy sources or other carbon-containing products through chemical processes.

By 2050, the goal of net zero CO2 emissions would have to be achieved in this way. In Cluster 1 of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative, strategies and new ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere are scientifically examined and evaluated in 4 projects with a view to the German framework. Based on the currently most promising contributions to a national net zero strategy and the transparent presentation of research results, Cluster 1 will advance the public and political debate on CO2 neutrality at various levels - also in the Helmholtz Association itself.

Projects

Participating Centers:

  • HZG, DLR, FZJ, GEOMAR, UFZ
  • Contributions by KIT, HZB, GFZ, HZDR and AWI in workshops and stakeholder-dialogs

Subproject 1.1

The main goal of this project is to develop scientific contributions for the development of a national roadmap net zero 2050. A key component will be the development and application of an evaluation matrix that allows a qualitative understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the various concepts and methods considered. In dialogue with citizens and interest groups, various technologies and approaches for reducing net CO2 emissions are discussed and analyzed in terms of their social acceptance and the expected political and economic feasibility. In addition, a net zero web atlas will be developed, which shows the most important results of the various projects carried out in this cluster as well as other initiatives.

The sub-project also includes two case studies: first, strategies for CO2-neutral cities, and second, a roadmap to lead the Helmholtz Association towards net zero by 2050.

Subproject 1.2

The second subproject in Project 1 deals with models and methods for forecasting net zero emission paths. In addition, energy scenarios are considered so that all relevant emission paths can be assessed with regard to the entire greenhouse gas budget. Aspects of the market design, regulatory framework and the resulting investment incentives are included as well as user perspectives. Integrating the correlations between climate change and the restructuring of the energy system poses a particular challenge.

Participating Centers:

  • KIT, UFZ, HZB, HZG/IfP, DLR

Contact:

Aim of the project

The project will examine the potential of two complementary approaches that can be used to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and - using renewable energies - convert it to chemical energy sources with a high energy density. These energy sources can then be used as fuels and chemical raw materials. The emerging CO2 is released into the atmosphere. This way, the use of carbon is implemented in a cycle, which supports the transition from fuels based on crude oil and chemicals to fuels based on carbon dioxide and renewable energies as input. Part of the carbon generated in the recycling process can be dissipated and stored if necessary, leading to an adaptable and at the same time carbon-reducing approach . By focusing on future liquid fuels, a reduction of up to 180 million tons of CO2 emissions is expected for Germany alone.

Participating Centers:

  • GFZ, KIT, HZDR, HZG/IfN

Contact:

Aim of the project

With the conversion of the energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energies, energy storage is becoming increasingly important. However, large amounts of energy (> 5TWh) can only be stored in the geological subsurface. While salt caverns have traditionally been used to store natural gas and are therefore well researched, their availability is locally limited. In contrast, porous aquifer systems are much more common – and this makes gas and heat storage possible in many parts of Germany. This fact moves porous groundwater layers into the focus of this project. The theoretical storage potential of the subsurface clearly exceeds the currently forecasted demand by far. The project therefore evaluates the technically and economically realizable potential and the resulting challenges. Furthermore it also evaluates underground processes that may cause restrictions and the efficiency of the available technical components.

Participating Centers:

  • FZJ/IBG-3, GFZ, FZJ/JSC, GEOMAR, HZG/GERICS, AWI

Contact:

Aim of the project

Natural greenhouse gas sources and sinks play an important role in the entire CO2 cycle and therefore in the CO2 budget. Both the emission and the storage of CO2 often depend on land use and management decisions. Project 4 will assess the potential of natural terrestrial and marine systems to reduce CO2 emissions and store carbon. It also analyzes the effects of measures to achieve the net zero targets in Germany. Due to the large spatial heterogeneity of the stored carbon and the limited number of studies, the storage capacity and rate of these natural systems are largely unknown and subject to very high error tolerances. A main goal of this project is therefore a better quantification of their capacity and to reduce uncertainty. Data services and web applications as well as the prototype of the "Soil Carbon App" will support the integrated, nationwide assessment and knowledge transfer to the stakeholders.

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