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DACH experts’ meeting on energy research

The first experts’ meeting on the topic of energy research in defence as part of the DACH cooperation took place on 12 and 13 July 2022 at armasuisse S+T in Thun. The participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland were able to present the research projects of their organisations over 1½ days and to discuss the challenges of the energy transition.

20.07.2022 | Corina Beerli, | Corina Beerli, Specialist area Research Management & Operations Research, armasuisse Science and Technology

Group photo. Experts stand next to each other in three rows on a staircase in front of an entrance.
Experts held talks on the topic of energy research in defence in Thun.

During last year’s DACH Research Directors’ meeting in Berlin, the participants decided to strengthen the cooperation between the three countries Germany, Austria and Switzerland in various areas, including that of sustainable energy. For this reason, this summer armasuisse Science and Technology (S+T) invited representatives from the Federal Armed Forces and the Federal Ministry of Defence (Germany) as well as the Ministry of Defence (Austria), in addition to representatives from the Swiss Armed Forces Staff, for a meeting of experts in Thun.

Promoting sustainable energy sources together

The meeting focused on the challenges of sustainability mobility and self-sufficient energy supply. There was a consensus among all those present that the transition from fossil and nuclear energy sources to sustainable energy sources will lead to a major power supply gap, especially in the winter. This can only be managed through swift and decisive action. In all three countries, the energy consumption of national defence is around 0.2-0.3% of the national energy consumption. Efforts toward partial energy self-sufficiency are thus well within the realms of possibility.

Challenges in mobility

For defence, the major challenge in mobility is that the larger the size of a vehicle or a plane, the more difficult it is to electrify or hybridise the drive alone. Alternatives to diesel and kerosene do not only require a larger volume and thus more space, but they also have a greater weight. Such compromises can be made in smaller military vehicles, to replace conventional drives with batteries or fuel cells. However, not without a noticeable loss in sustainability or performance intensity. In combat vehicles and fighter aircraft however, it is only possible to replace fossil fuels by sustainably produced, biogenic or synthetic fuels, due to their high performance intensity and necessary sustainability.

More in-depth exchange on sustainability and energy supply required

At the experts’ meeting, it was confirmed that the challenges in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are very similar, and various common interests were identified. The participants were in agreement that the DACH exchange in the area of energy research should be maintained and expanded to the ongoing working group discussion in the areas of sustainability and energy. A motion to this effect will be submitted at the upcoming Research Directors’ meeting. This will take place on 5/6 October 2022 in Thun. 

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