It's one of the biggest challenges of our time: How should we shape our energy mix in times of a changing climate, dwindling natural resources and a growing demand for energy in quickly growing economies?
Germany aims to tackle -- and maybe even answer -- this question this year with a multitude of events and funding efforts linked to the energy mix.
"Financing energy research is among the top priorities of our science agenda," Germany's Science Minister Annette Schavan said Monday in Berlin. "The Energy Year is aimed at bringing into the middle of our society a debate about new solutions and concepts for the future energy mix."
Berlin will be putting $621 million into energy research and development in 2010, some $60 million more than in the previous year. Nearly 40 percent of the money will fund projects to advance renewable energy sources and boost energy efficiency.
"Only through boosted research and development efforts will we achieve the necessary transition in our energy system," Schavan said.
Germany has formulated the ambitious target to until 2020 reduce its CO2 levels by 40 percent compared with 1990 levels. That same year renewables are due to account for 18.7 percent of the German energy mix, Berlin writes in a document detailing its plans to meet the EU's green energy targets. That's nearly double the share in 2009.
In Germany, most of the green power will come from on and offshore wind turbines. Yet Berlin is also funding projects dealing with nuclear power and clean coal.
Germany has significant domestic coal resources and is eager to green the resource's profile.
"No technology should be ruled out right away," Schavan said.
But the Energy Year will be more than just research: Public squares will see installations related to energy efficiency, a boat will tour Germany's waterways and anchor in 34 cities to further the energy dialogue, and renowned energy experts will visit schools and even kindergartens to tell Germans how to save energy.
On Sept. 25 universities, companies and museums will open their doors to the public to present their activities linked to energy.
"We will pursue a direct dialogue between all important actors and our people," Schavan said. "Politicians and scientists need to convince the public of their plans when developing sustainable solutions for the energy mix of the future."