Transformation of Energy Systems (Energy)

Access to reliable and affordable energy is key to enabling economic and social development. However, the current fossil-based global energy system has also resulted in environmental destruction and pollution, and contributes substantially to climate change. One major challenge of our time therefore lies in ensuring universal and equitable access to energy while eliminating or minimising environmental and social risks.

The research programm builds on the following projects:

Transdisciplinary Panel on Energy Change:

Energy Systems in Transition

The research activities of the Transformation of Energy Systems programme span different aspects of the energy system and rely on an interdisciplinary team of experts. Building on the experience of providing scientific guidance for the German Energiewende, the programme widens and connects the national perspective with the international dimension of energy transformation. 

Achieving “Sustainable Energy for All” will require new ideas as well as an overhaul of existing structures. And for that to happen, innovations in diverse fields such as technology, political governance and regulatory frameworks, socio-economics and energy markets need to concur. The Transformation of Energy Systems programme analyses ongoing and past transformation processes and explores options for a future with renewable energy. Possible solutions and innovations are evaluated from a long-term, sustainability perspective and critical technology assessments are carried out to prevent unintended side effects. As a transdisciplinary platform, the programme facilitates dialogue among societal stakeholders as well as the co-design of research priorities with the aim of generating transformative knowledge. As such, it plays an active role in the science-policy and wider science-society interface in the field of energy transformation.

Our overarching research questions are:

  • Which social and political opportunities and challenges does energy system transformation imply in terms of democratic governance, public participation, and the distribution of benefits and burdens? 
  • Which technological innovations can contribute to facilitating the transition from the current fossil-based energy systems to more flexible systems based on renewable energy sources? 
  • What energy market designs, regulatory frameworks and institutional settings appropriate from the perspective of a long-term transformation of the energy system? 
  • What is the contribution of the German Energiewende to a global transformation of energy systems and how can mutual learning (among international frontrunners) be fostered?

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