Sustainable Mobility – New Technologies for the Transport Sector

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The energy transition in the transport sector is a basic prerequisite for meeting the climate protection goals of the Paris Agreement. New technologies for vehicles and infrastructure offer comprehensive solutions for the emission-free driving of tomorrow.

Flächenpotenzial für Integrierte Photovoltaik
© Milos Muller/Shutterstock

What is Sustainable Mobility?#

Sustainable mobility includes various measures to reduce CO2 emissions, such as car sharing, expanding public transport as well as the principle of having short distances. Also the digital automation and networking of vehicles are central. Especially important is the further development of alternative drive systems such as battery and fuel cells. Although the market share of electric and hybrid vehicles rose from 1.8 % to 2.6 % by mid-2019, the limited range, high acquisition costs and regional gaps in the charging infrastructure require further technical innovations and new scientific approaches. At Fraunhofer ISE, we therefore conduct transdisciplinary research on new technologies for the sustainable mobility of tomorrow, taking all drive systems into account.

Why New Technologies Need Priority#

23 % of CO2 emissions are attributable to the transport sector, of which the majority is due to motorized individual traffic. While the need for mobility is forecast to increase by around 30 % by 2030, the implementation of the climate protection plan for transport has come to a standstill: Instead of saving 40 % of greenhouse gas emissions, CO2 emissions in this sector – unlike in other areas – have not fallen since 1990. In fact, ecological, economic and social aspects play a greater role in mobility than in hardly any other sector. The basic prerequisite for a successful transition to sustainable mobility is therefore social acceptance and the close cooperation between industry, science and politics.

Our Research Priorities for Emission-Free Mobility#

Fraunhofer ISE has decades of research experience in the field of sustainable mobility. We analyze the topic of CO2-free mobility from many different angles and bundle our expertise in cross-divisional know-how, enabling us to offer research services on the energy supply for the power drive as well as the system infrastructure. Our research includes:

Hydrogen Infrastructure

Green hydrogen can be produced emission-free by electrolysis. For an efficient hydrogen infrastructure we are researching improved solutions for storage and distribution.

Battery System Technology

Battery systems for emission-free mobility: At Fraunhofer ISE we develop stacks, modules and systems for this purpose, including aging models and life cycle cost analyses.

Thermal Management

Efficient cold and heat management increases profitability, safety and age resistance – and saves energy. Our interdisciplinary, drive-neutral approach makes this possible.

Emission-Free Combustion Engines

With the help of innovative power-to-liquid technologies, we are working on clean combustion engines – cleverly hybridized and powered by synthetic fuels from sustainable sources.

Vehicle-Integrated Photovoltaics

The integration of efficiently connected solar cells into the car roof can increase the range of electric vehicles by about 2000 km per year. For this purpose and beyond, we offer you solutions and energy yield analyses.

Fuel Cells

Fuel cell vehicles make a long driving range with short refueling times possible. We provide development services starting from cell components up to complete systems.

Network Integration of Electric Vehicles

The demands on the networking and controllability of charging systems are increasing. We develop hardware and software systems for their intelligent, communicative integration into the power grid.

Road-Integrated Photovoltaics

Road-integrated photovoltaics (RIPV) encompasses the incorporation of solar modules into and near land areas reserved for transportation.

Jointly Putting Sustainable Technologies on the Road#

The energy transition in the transport sector can only succeed if industry and science work together. As the largest solar research institute in Europe, Fraunhofer ISE is researches application-oriented methods and technologies in the field of sustainable mobility across the entire value chain. Our industrial partners benefit from an outstanding R&D infrastructure with seven laboratory centers, four technology innovation centers and six accredited test and calibration facilities on a total area of 16,000 m2. This offers companies not only the opportunity to reduce costs and secure competitiveness, but also to actively shape the transport of the future.

Numbers and Data on this Topic#

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Share of CO2  emissions from the transport sector
© Graphics: Fraunhofer ISE
With a share of 23 %, the transport sector is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Germany.


Source: German Environment Agency UBA, National trend charts for German reporting of atmospheric emissions 1990-2018, status 01/2020

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Reduction in CO2 emissions in the transport sector since 1990
© Graphics: Fraunhofer ISE
Since 1990 the reduction in CO2 emissions in the transport sector was only 1 %.


Source: German Environment Agency UBA.

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Reduction in CO2 emission required by 2030
© Graphics: Fraunhofer ISE
Necessary reductions in CO2 emissions from the transport sector in order to achieve the climate protection targets of the German federal government in 2030 (reduction around 41 percent compared to 1990 values).


Source: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).