Press Release 081/2021

GeoKarlsruhe 2021: Research for a Sustainable Development of Our Planet

The International Geoscientific Online Conference Themed “Sustainable Earth – from Processes to Resources“ is Held at KIT
2021_081_GeoKarlsruhe 2021 Forschung fuer eine nachhaltige Entwicklung unseres Planeten_72dpi
Whether extraction and storage of renewable energies or sustainable handling of resources: Geosciences contribute significantly to the success of the energy and raw materials transition. (Photo Composition: Pascal Armbruster, KIT)

Whether hydrogen for the energy transition, critical raw materials for industry and infrastructure, a secure water supply, or the intelligent use of geodata for climate-friendly technologies: The topics of GeoKarlsruhe 2021, which is held from September 19 to 24, 2021, illustrate that geological know-how makes important contributions, especially with regard to a climate-friendly energy supply and the careful use of raw materials. The media are cordially invited to attend the digital conference organized by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the German Geological Society (DGGV). Please register by Thursday, September 16, 2021 at presse-geokarlsruhe2021 does-not-exist.fu-confirm de

"For the success of the energy transition and the sustainable use of our natural resources, we depend on expertise from the geosciences: They help us, for example, to gently extract special raw materials for climate-friendly technologies and to better understand the fundamental processes of the Earth," says President of KIT Professor Holger Hanselka. "In this context, many relevant activities converge at KIT, from energy production and storage to the extraction of lithium from geothermal waters and groundwater research. For GeoKarlsruhe 2021, this offers an ideal environment."

Geological Knowledge for the Transformation of Economy and Society

The great importance of geological knowledge to a sustainable transformation of economy and society is also emphasized by the head of the conference, Professor Christoph Hilgers from KIT‘s Institute of Applied Geosciences (AGW): "No matter whether drinking water or food, metals or plastics, building materials or storage caverns for hydrogen - without the geosciences, neither the energy transition would be conceivable, nor would modern life be possible."

"Basic geoscientific research on climate change in our Earth system has shown that more than ever we need to develop applied solutions that can sustainably secure our future. Wind and sun alone will not be enough. We therefore also need to promote the use of geothermal energy and the use of the subsurface for the intermediate storage of energy or for the storage of greenhouse gas emissions throughout Germany," says Dr. Jürgen Grötsch, President of the DGGV, which is organizing the conference together with KIT. "These needs represent a major challenge for all geoscientists in the coming decades - knowledge and data on the geological subsurface will play a crucial role in this."

With 600 participants from 36 countries, the conference provides a platform for basic research and application. The spectrum ranges from marine research to space exploration on Mars, and from big data to wind turbine emissions.

Selected Program Items

Panel Discussion: "Energy Transition with Hydrogen?"
Monday, September 20, 2021, 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

In Germany, hydrogen is to be used as an energy carrier in the transport sector and as a raw material in industry. It is to be obtained with the help of renewable energies, but transitionally also by means of methane pyrolysis or steam reforming with CCS/CCUS from natural gas. But how can a secure supply for industry and storage in large underground storage facilities and decentralized facilities on the premises of large consumers be ensured? These and other questions will be discussed by experts from industry and science: Professor Thomas Hirth, Vice-President for Innovation and International Affairs at KIT; Dr. Klaus Langemann, Senior Vice-President Carbon Management & Hydrogen at Wintershall Dea AG; Dr. Markus Oles, Head of Carbon2Chem, Sustainable Production at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG; Hans-Joachim Polk, Member of the Infrastructure & Technology Executive Board at VNG AG; Michael Schmidt, expert of the German Mineral Resources Agency (DERA) at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR).

Panel Discussion: “Critical Raw Materials“
Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

As an industrial nation, Germany has a high demand for raw materials, which will increase even further with the energy and mobility transition. What options are there for meeting the demand in the face of growing global demand, and to what extent can recycling and the circular economy contribute to this? This will be discussed by Professor Thomas Hirth, Vice-President for Innovation and International Affairs at KIT; Dr. Peter Buchholz, Head of the German Mineral Resources Agency (DERA) at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR); Moritz Ostenrieder, Managing Director of Sachtleben Minerals GmbH & Co. KG; Dr. Andreas Wendt, BMW AG Board Member for Purchasing and Supplier Network; and others.

Panel Discussion: “The Future of GeoData Management“ (in English)
Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Geospatial data management is a success factor for the energy transition, for example with regard to geothermal sources and underground hydrogen storage, but also with regard to water resource issues and the search for a final repository for radioactive waste. The challenges involved are discussed by Karen Hanghøj, Director of the British Geological Survey; Ralph Watzel, President of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR); Maximilian Ahrens, Chief Technology Officer of T-Systems; and Johan Krebbers, Vice-President IT Innovation and GM Emerging Global Technologies.

Panel Discussion: “Groundwater and Drinking Water – Challenges Posed by Climate Change and Land Use“
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Groundwater is one of the most important water resources globally and contributes about 75 percent to the drinking water supply in Germany. In many regions worldwide, it is increasingly used for irrigation and thus also plays an important role in food production for the growing world population. Groundwater is important not least to many ecosystems. The projected climate change and changing land use pose multiple challenges to the availability and quality of groundwater resources. This topic is discussed by Professor Nico Goldscheider, KIT; Professor Matthias Maier, Stadtwerke Karlsruhe; Professor Maria-Theresia Schafmeister, University of Greifswald; Dr. Klaus Schnell, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) GmbH; and Thomas Walter, Saarland Ministry of the Environment.

More Information on the Panel Discussions:

Other Program Highlights – Lectures  

Monday, September 20, 2021, 15:15 p.m.-16.00 p.m.
Scott W. Tinker: From Poverty to Prosperity: The Real Energy Transition

Monday, September 20, 2021, 19:00 p.m.-20:00 p.m.
John P. Grotzinger Geology on Mars

Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 15:15 p.m.-16:00 p.m.
Kathryn Goodenough: Critical Raw Materials for the Energy Transition

Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 15:15 p.m.-16:00 p.m.
Karen Hanghøj: The Future of Geodata Management – the UK experiences

Thursday, September 23, 2021, 15:15 p.m-16:00 p.m.
Bridget R. Scanlon: Relative Importance of Climate and Humans on Water Storage Changes using GRACE Satellite Data

Please find the complete program of GeoKarlsruhe 2021 with many more events at:


Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

mhe, 09.09.2021


Monika Landgraf
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Dr. Martin Heidelberger
Press Officer
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