Press release | 23 June 2021 | wrt

Green Deal: TU Berlin Receives Two Million Euros from the EU

TU Berlin involved in 4 of 72 funded projects across Europe

Green Deal is the largest and final funding round in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research program and represents the European Commission’s response to the climate crisis and its efforts to expedite Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. As part of Green Deal, funding has now been approved for two projects led by TU Berlin as well as two projects with significant TU involvement. Researchers at TU Berlin will receive more than 2 million euros and work together with 88 partner institutions and companies. A total of 1 billion euros has been approved for just 72 cooperative partnerships throughout Europe selected from 1550 proposals by an 800-strong expert committee appointed by the European Commission.

“Given the number of proposals submitted, gaining funding for four projects is a real success for TU Berlin,” says TU president Professor Christian Thomsen. “This not only strengthens our commitment and expertise in combating the climate crisis; it also enables us to further develop our global network, building on the success achieved at regional level by the creation of the Climate Change Center Berlin Brandenburg. Another important factor is that the projects will involve the public and seek to provide and implement model solutions while also strengthening developments in engineering and technology.” The two projects led by TU Berlin focus on Africa, thus providing opportunities for cooperation within the University. 

The projects:

Early recognition of the potential for conflict

ENERGICA: A cooperative project with 28 partner institutions coordinated by Professor Boris Heinz of the Chair of Community Energy and Adaptation to Climate Change at TU Berlin, ENERGICA will receive a total of ten million euros from the European Commission over a period of four years. TU Berlin’s share of this funding amounts to one million euros. The project focuses on three locations in different parts of Africa. In the suburbs of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, solar cells and biogas plants will be used to produce electricity as well as provide clean drinking water and natural fertilizer through their integration into a water treatment plant. In Nairobi, e-scooter taxi drivers will be able to contribute to cleaner air for Kenya’s capital city by charging their vehicles at a solar-powered station. And in rural areas of Madagascar, nano grids will be constructed to provide energy for decentralized networks of just ten buildings as well as store power using hydrogen and fuel cells.

“In addition to creating individual technical innovations, we want to involve the various stakeholders at an early stage and coordinate the dialog between local partners regarding the operation and use of the plants,” says Heinz. This is important, as here, just as everywhere, the different interests of the various stakeholders represent a potential for conflict: Should the solar power available be used to operate electric agricultural machines, provide refrigeration for harvested fruit, or for water pumps?  Which routes should offer new-energy battery-charging facilities for Nairobi’s e-scooter taxi operators? Who should benefit from secure access to drinking water through their proximity to a water treatment plant? “Pursuing transparent processes to set the right course will make it easier for people to identify with the project and increase the likelihood of its long-term success,” explains Heinz. When planning the project, Heinz was able to draw on networks developed as part of a current project on the French island of Mayotte near Madagascar. Also of benefit is his long involvement with the United Nation’s environmental program and the NGO Hudara, which he also co-founded. Hudara specializes in regional community management in areas particularly affected by poverty, conflict, and climate change.

TU Berlin will receive a further one million euros for its work in three other projects:

Rapid and widespread implementation of lighthouse projects

Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA): The work of SESA’s 30 project partners will be coordinated at the administrative level by Bonn-based global urban network ICLEI and at the technical level by TU Berlin. The project will be led by Dr. Oliver Lah, head of the Urban Change Maker Group at Professor Philipp Misselwitz’s Habitat Unit in cooperation with the United Nation’s Habitat program and the Wuppertal Institute. SESA will pursue a three-pronged approach to test out model projects developed in different African countries to examine their suitability for the continent’s other regions and implement promising concepts in as many areas as possible. The first phase will start in Kenya, where projects include using water hyacinths from Lake Victoria to produce biogas. Farmers in the region clear water hyacinths over large areas, as they are an invasive species harmful to biodiversity. Other subprojects include the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and using solar lamps to provide street lighting. The main focus in this first phase of the project will be on improving technical and economic aspects.

“In the second phase, we will be examining whether these business models are also suitable for geographically and socio-economically different regions such as Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, and Morocco and can thus provide blueprints for transformative energy solutions,” explains Lah. During the project, a toolkit consisting of training documents, business models, and life cycle assessments will be developed to test out the transferability of concepts in Namibia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Nigeria working with local partners.

Developing flexible gas turbines for hydrogen and biogas

Bio-FlexGen: This project will combine the transformation of hydrogen produced using green energy sources, such as solar or wind power, and biomass into electrical energy and heating. Green hydrogen is seen as a key technology in stabilizing electrical grids and decarbonizing the power sector. Bio-FlexGen will develop a gas turbine technology to enable the use of hydrogen to achieve a quick balance of load changes in the electrical grid as well as the use of biomass for an efficient conversion to gas at low operating costs. The high level of efficiency resulting from the use of biomass in this power plant will potentially achieve a three-fold increase in electrical output with the same thermal output when compared with existing thermal power stations. In addition, the plant also enables operation with up to 100% hydrogen to achieve significantly higher levels of efficiency than before. The Chair of Fluid Mechanics led by Professor Christian Oliver Paschereit will develop a solution to ensure that the combustion chamber, very much the heart of the gas turbine, will be able to cope with the changing composition of the biogas and the use of hydrogen. This is a new requirement which no existing gas turbine has yet achieved. The project coordinator for Bio-FlexGen is the Swedish research organization RISE.

Involving the public in new formats

Real_Deal: The focus here is on the active involvement of members of the public throughout Europe in the entire Green Deal program. The project will be coordinated from Brussels by the European Environmental Bureau, Europe’s largest civil society environmental network. Project partner at TU Berlin is the Chair of Work, Technology, and Participation (ArTe) led by Professor Hans-Liudger Dienel. Dienel’s team will focus on citizen committees – randomly composed participation committees – comparing their different formats and analyzing Green Deal-relevant stakeholders and their relationships to each other. Real_Deal will enable physical and virtual town hall meetings in at least 13 European countries and use these to develop recommendations for other similar events. The objective is to create a broad base for the Green Deal program through the involvement of members of the public. The project will also focus on gender equality and the inclusion of young people and marginalized groups.



Prof. Dr. Boris Heinz
Chair of Community Energy and Adaptation to Climate Change
Technische Universität Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 314 21710
Email: b.heinz(at)

Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA)

Dr. Oliver Lah
Urban Change Maker Group
Technische Universität Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 288 7458 16
Email: oliver.lah(at)


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Oliver Paschereit
Chair of Fluid Dynamics
Hermann Föttinger Institute (HFI)
Technische Universität Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 314 79777
Email: oliver.paschereit(at)


Prof. Dr. Hans-Liudger Dienel
Chair of Work, Technology and Participation
Technische Universität Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 314 21406
Email: hans-liudger.dienel(at)