Energy Systems of Tomorrow

"Energy Systems of Tomorrow" focuses on the development of new technologies and concepts for a flexible and efficient energy system based on renewable energy sources.


"Energy Systems of Tomorrow" is a subprogram of the Austrian R&D Program on Technologies for Sustainable Development and focuses on the development of new technologies and concepts for a flexible and efficient energy system based on renewable energy sources. Furthermore, it is the intention of the subprogram to show their feasibility by realising demonstration projects. These aims are conform to the economical, strategical and political objectives of the R&D Program concerning sustainability and research.

An energy system that is based on the use of renewable energy sources can be characterised by being service-oriented and it is able to cover varying energy demands in a flexible, reliable and cost-effective way by using an optimal mix of predominantly renewable energy sources. The direct and indirect impact on the environment is thereby minimised and regional conditions are considered as best as possible.

"Energy Systems of Tomorrow" fosters research and development of new concepts and technologies as well as systems innovations and strategies. Whereas, project chains that lead from basic studies or concepts to concrete technology developments to demonstration projects are particularly valuable. In this respect, demonstration projects (e.g. model systems, model regions) shall be seen as "beacons of innovation" that are able to show how strategies concerning sustainability can lead to an increase in the quality of life and economic prosperity.

The subprogram focuses on

  • energy efficiency,
  • the use of renewable energy sources and
  • systems innovations and strategies.

Goals of the Program

Besides the target structure developed for the Austrian Program on Technologies for Sustainable Development the following objectives play a crucial role in the subprogram:

  • Improvement of the over-all efficiency of energy systems and their components:

    Intelligent energy systems can be created through innovations both at single components and of the total system. Those systems are able to cover varying and time-variable energy demands clearly more efficient. Moreover, questions of storage and load management as well as aspects of most efficient use of different energy products (e.g. electricity, process heat, low temperature heat...) and multifunctional system components also play a substantial role.

  • Provision of a technological basis for the increased integration of renewable energy sources:

    The share of renewable energy sources can be noticeably increased through clever integration and improved system design. The use of renewable energy sources can create an added value for the regions and jobs can be safeguarded. Moreover a valuable contribution to the CO2 problem will be achieved. Depending on the regional conditions and the energy demand a varying mix of solar energy, biomass, wind and waterpower can be implemented. However, this mix of renewable energy sources should be optimised according to the total system.

  • Improvement of the cooperation between science and economy and the extension of the Austrian technological strengths:

    When asking questions about "Energy Systems of Tomorrow" it can be stated that an improvement of the cooperation between different protagonists from universities and research institutions and the economy is an important requirement in order to reach interdisciplinary and comprehensive solutions and technological breakthroughs. By means of cooperative projects, particularly in fields with high innovation potential, however, still with little degree of cross-linking (e.g. biogas), a professional approach and "bundling" of competences shall be supported in order to become internationally competitive. Both the know-how basis of the enterprises and the competence in the Austrian research area will be strengthened.


Innovations that are oriented towards sustainability can be valuable for certain areas of the Austrian economy. In order to use this potential, research and development projects are required which have the aim to result in subsequent demonstration projects. For this reason, solutions and technologies have to be developed that are markedly superior to the already existing concepts in terms of variety, multifunctionality and high adaptability. Furthermore, a systematic approach is necessary which is also open-minded with respect to the used technologies and "solutions-oriented". Innovations are required on a structural, socio-economic as well as on a technological level.

Innovations on the following levels are initiated:

  • Structural level: structural changes and changes of the system, systems performance, general conditions
  • Socio-economic level: changes in the user behaviour subject to knowledge, attitude and lifestyle, costs.
  • Technological level: developments in key areas in consideration of the total chain of primary energy sources to the energy service.

At regular intervals calls for tenders that build up on each other shall be carried out. Basic research studies, cooperative concepts and projects in which technologies are developed shall be initiated and financed. As a result, demonstration projects such as model systems, if possible integrated into model regions, shall be developed.

Besides the calls for tenders, accompanying measures are carried out. These measures shall support the formation of cooperative project consortia, the cooperation among the existing projects and the implementation of the project results. The intention of the competition "Energy Regions of Tomorrow" is to find successful and innovative regions. These regions can be seen as potential partners for the program or model regions where model systems can be realised.

The integration of Austrian protagonists in international cooperative projects of the International Energy Agency is supported and strengthened. This is of particular interest when looking at the development of long term technologies. In some fields Austria has high competences, however, it has a lack of financial and human resources for independent developments (e.g. stationary fuel cells, hydrogen use or photovoltaic). In the framework of the ERA-Net participations, European co-operations on a program level shall be developed and further possibilities shall be opened up.

1st Call for tender

In 2003 the subprogram "Energy Systems of Tomorrow" started with its first call for tenders. The design of the first call was thematically broader and had its main focus on basic studies and concepts. To some extent it already included concrete links for technological developments.

The first call for tenders was structured into the following subject areas:

  • Questions concerning the energy system, integration of renewable energy sources
  • Innovative production and service systems
  • Specific demand for technology development with special focus on system integration
  • Strategic accompanying projects
  • International cooperation (IEA participation)

However, due to intensive consulting done by the umbrella management 124 demanding and high quality projects could be submitted. Out of those the jury suggested 51 to be worth financing and they could be started in 2004. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the high share of project cooperation was very pleasing (on average 4 partners per project) as well as the high share of projects in cooperation with enterprises (65% of the launched projects). The effective budget of this call was 5,9 Million Euro

1st call statistics

2nd Call for tender

In 2005 the 2nd call was launched, it will be open till 2007. This call for tenders is structured into the following subject areas:

  • Concepts for initiating and preparing model systems
  • Grid-integration and management with distributed generation (renewables)
  • Innovative production and service systems
  • Specific demand for technology development
  • Strategic accompanying projects

Project database