The energy transition is more than the development of new infrastructures and technologies; it entails far-reaching changes in society and the economy.
The energy transition is more than the development of new infrastructures and technologies; it entails far-reaching changes in society and the economy. IASS/Norbert Michalke

Headline: Pathways to Sustainable Energy

The research group Pathways to Sustainable Energy conducts transdisciplinary research on the global transition to sustainable energy. It combines disciplinary expertise from the fields of political science, sociology, psychology, economics and the environmental and physical sciences with expert knowledge from practitioners and policy makers in the energy sector. Specifically, the team focuses on the following inter-related topics:

  • Social sustainability of energy transition processes
  • Politics and governance of the global energy transition
  • Techno-economic and political dimensions of a global hydrogen economy By engaging practitioners from government, business and civil society in our transdisciplinary research processes, we co-create actionable policy proposals and solutions.

Socially Sustainable Energy Transitions

Social aspects of sustainability are critical for the success of energy transformations around world. The research group studies the perceptions, involvement and support of the general public in the context of Germany´s Energiewende as well as the local priorities and needs of different communities and stakeholders in selected African countries.

Politics and Governance of a Global Energy Transition

A global transition to sustainable energy is accompanied by important changes in the geopolitics and governance of energy. Against this background, the research group investigates how the global energy transition is affecting the international political economy of energy and identifies implications for foreign policy and international cooperation.

Techno-economic and Political Dimensions of Clean Hydrogen

Clean hydrogen has recently emerged as an important new pillar of the global transition to sustainable energy. Our interdisciplinary research on the topic investigates the inter-relationship between political, techno-economic and environmental dimensions of an emerging global hydrogen economy.


Techno-Economic and Political Dimensions of a Global Hydrogen Economy

Green and low-carbon hydrogen could help decarbonize high-emitting sectors. In this interdisciplinary project, researchers explore the underlying technological possibilities, economic structures and institutional setting of an emerging hydrogen economy and analyze their implications for a global transition to sustainable energy.

Politics and Governance of the 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. Although fossil fuels continue to dominate the global energy supply, renewables are on the rise around the world and competition in clean energy technologies is intensifying. In this project the researchers aim to better understand these political processes.

A Democratic Culture of Conflict for the Energy Transition

This three-year project examines conflicts and cultures of conflict resolution in connection with the German energy transition. Researchers are studying the dynamics and drivers of these conflicts and threats they pose to democratic culture. The project focuses in particular on the role of populist narratives and attitudes, which are increasingly common in debates about Energiewende projects.

Kopernikus Project Ariadne

The guiding principle of the Ariadne joint project is to provide an overview and orientation for the design and implementation of the energy transition through excellent research in a joint learning process with politics, business, and society. The aim of the project is to create an overarching perspective, analyze the impact of policy instruments and identify a whole range of possible policy options for shaping the energy transition in Germany.

Global Potentials for the Production and Export of Green Hydrogen

Germany will remain dependent on energy imports for the foreseeable future. This will include green hydrogen imports from regions with abundant solar and wind energy resources. The HyPat project is conducting a comprehensive global assessment of green hydrogen potentials, as called for in Germany's National Hydrogen Strategy (Nationale Wasserstoffstrategie - NWS).

Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: Implications of an International Hydrogen Economy (GET Hydrogen)

In order to reach its goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, Germany and the EU must rapidly introduce hydrogen (H2) as an energy carrier along the entire value and production chain. The growth of this hydrogen economy will spur the development of new trade relations and place new demands on the global governance of the energy transition. The project analyses the opportunities and challenges of these developments from a geopolitical perspective. The results of this research will support an international dialogue with stakeholders from politics, the business sector, and civil society.

Completed Projects

Social Sustainability Barometer of the 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.

Scoping Study: Monitoring the Global Hydrogen Economy

In a project financed by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the IASS will develop a concept for a systematic monitoring process for the global hydrogen economy. Insights gathered through such a monitoring exercise are intended to underpin strategic innovation and market support within the framework of the international hydrogen policy of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

A European Roadmap for Green Hydrogen

Hydrogen is widely viewed as the energy resource of the future - both in German and European politics. Under current proposals, hydrogen is to be generated using electricity from renewable sources and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry. The European Committee of the Regions has decided to contribute an own-initiative opinion to the political debate on the development of the European hydrogen economy. The IASS will play a supporting role in the preparation of this opinion.