Can specialty chemicals be produced from carbon dioxide, water, and renewable energy? In the same way that plants generate glucose through photosynthesis? Siemens and Evonik are exploring these questions in the Rheticus project. If they succeed in creating this artificial photosynthesis, it would be possible to produce chemicals sustainably. This technology would also be used for energy storage, and it could react to power fluctuations and help to stabilize the electricity grid.
This issue presents several aspects of the Rheticus project—its scientific dimensions as well as its social implications. That’s because Rheticus also represents a new conceptual approach to energy policy. The aim is to find a better balance between the environment-friendly generation of electricity and its economically viable consumption—and to design the social framework in such a way that everyone ultimately benefits.