Headline: Energy

The decarbonisation of the energy system is among the most important challenges of the twenty-first century. The energy sector accounts for approximately two thirds of global CO2 emissions. Hence, the development of a low-carbon energy supply based on renewable sources represents an essential entry-point in the fight against climate change. The deployment of renewable energy is also linked to important co-benefits, including improvements in air and water quality. But the energy transition is more than the development of new infrastructures and technologies; it entails far-reaching changes in society and the economy. It changes natural landscapes, drives the development of new social practices and ways of life, reassigns responsibilities, reshapes governance and political alliances, and redistributes power. In Germany, the energy transition has fostered the spread of energy cooperatives and other innovative organisational models. As a frontrunner in the transformation of its electricity system, Germany represents an important learning ground in the search for sustainable models of energy production and consumption.

The IASS investigates the complex change processes that underpin the energy transition across multiple research projects and develops solutions to foster sustainable outcomes. This research is underpinned by an approach focussing on the interdependencies and interactions between innovative technologies, new business models and organisational structures, evolutions in governance, and emerging lifestyles and practices of adaptation. The study of the social dimension of the energy transition and the integrated assessment of various socio-technical options for the development of a low-carbon energy system form a particular focus of this research. Research activities at the IASS also explore the international dimension of the energy transition and the role of Germany as a potential driver of a global energy transition. Our researchers monitor and assess key processes, including the efforts of G20 states to transform the global energy system, and study developments in major emerging economies.


Meeting with State Government

A Future Commission for Brandenburg

The Governor of Brandenburg and members of the state government came to the IASS on 12 December to discuss energy policy and climate protection. Together with the directors of the IASS and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), they explored the idea of a Future Commission to ensure that Brandenburg’s energy transition is socially responsible and economically sustainable.

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Decarbonisation of the Energy System

This research area focuses on smart heating in private households, international experiences of coal phase-outs, and the contribution of methane leakages from natural gas networks to greenhouse gas emissions.

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Global Energy Transition

A sustainable, low-carbon energy supply is essential for achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Socially Sustainable Energy Transition

Increasingly, discussions of the energy transition are revolving around questions of fairness, justice, and social responsibility, with a particular focus on financing, public acceptance of wind turbines and transmission lines, the coal phase-out, and working conditions in the wind and solar industry.

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Mobilising the Multiple Opportunities of Renewable Energies

The global transition to renewable sources of energy is in full swing. Complementing climate action, the social and economic opportunities presented by this transformation have spurred the growth of renewable energy generation in many countries. Together with many of Germany’s partner countries in the area of energy and climate policy, the project consortium led by the IASS is carrying out country-specific analyses of the social and economic potentials of an ambitious climate protection programme based on renewable energies. To exploit these potentials, policy instruments are being developed with partners from policy institutions, academia, business and civil society.

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