The decarbonisation of the energy system poses many challenges, from major investments to infrastructure redesign.
The decarbonisation of the energy system poses many challenges, from major investments to infrastructure redesign. Bureau of Land Management/CC BY 2.0

Headline: Energy Transition Dynamics

The Energy Transition Dynamics Group conducts problem-driven research on policy options, strategies, and instruments for the complete decarbonisation of the electricity sector.

The starting point for this research is the realisation that we do not merely need to reduce our carbon emissions to meet the aims of the Paris Agreement: we need to completely eliminate carbon emissions by mid-century.

This calls for a wholesale transition of the entire electricity and energy system. The future climate-neutral electricity system will be totally different from the current one. It will be fed by renewable generators that are dependent on the weather, supported in all likelihood by a larger and more flexible grid infrastructure, and governed by a new set of institutions adapted to the needs of renewables. Such a transition brings many challenges, ranging from the sheer size of the investments needed to the huge efforts required to build up the necessary supply chains, redesign the electricity infrastructure, change the market rules to better accommodate renewables, and develop technical and social measures in order to facilitate the integration of fluctuating renewable electricity.

Far from being locked into a particular discipline or methodology, the researchers in this group broaden and deepen the monodisciplinary perspective by approaching the same problem from new and different angles. They draw on theories and methods from various disciplines, including political science, economics, power system modelling, and transition research, but adopt a distinct theoretical and methodological framework for each question. This allows for flexibility and innovation. The team collaborates with colleagues from different parts of Europe and elsewhere in order to broaden our understanding of renewable energy policies and draw on relevant methodological expertise.

Projects

Market uptake of solar thermal electricity through cooperation (MUSTEC)

Concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in Southern Europe are capable of supplying dispatchable renewable electricity on demand both to domestic markets and to Central and Northern European countries. But various factors hinder their deployment. The MUSTEC research project proposes policy measures to overcome these obstacles.

The Sustainable Energy Transition Laboratory (SENTINEL)

The transition to a low-carbon energy system will involve a major redesign of the energy system with a focus on renewable energy sources. The Sustainable Energy Transitions Laboratory will develop, test and make freely available a modelling framework that helps a wide range of stakeholders make the critical decisions they are now faced with.

Identifying positive tipping points towards clean energy transitions in carbon intensive regions (Tipping+)

If Europe is to reach its 2030 and 2050 climate targets, it will need to fully decarbonise its energy and industrial sectors. This may have serious effects on the economies and social structures of affected regions, and especially those regions whose economies depend strongly on single coal- or carbon-intensive sectors. In this project, researchers are investigating how regions can be transformed without triggering social or economic decline.

Solar thermal power plants: Generating transformation knowledge with open data (Open CSP)

Solar thermal power plants are a controllable source of renewable electricity. The development of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies is promising, but their expansion has been overshadowed by solar photovoltaics, which are more affordable but less reliable. This project will collect and publish data relating to CSP projects worldwide with the aim of providing the research and policy community with a detailed, high-quality overview.