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After the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima in 2011, the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS was launched to add a social-science oriented, interdisciplinary perspective to the technical dominated field of energy research in Germany. After its five years term, ENERGY-TRANS was finalized in December 2016.
This homepage will not be updated anymore, but it will remain publically available to provide access to the scientific approach, to the list of publications and to other information about ENERGY-TRANS.

Research profile

Photo: KIT

The Alliance understands the energy system as a complex socio-technical system and, based on this perspective, conducts interdisciplinary research into the systemic interactions of the envisioned energy transition. The main focus lies on the interplay between technical potentials, innovation processes, user behaviour, political and economic conditions (incentives and disincentives), conflicts and management processes. Cross-cutting (i.e. horizontal) activities complement the complex research design as a means to ensure a high level of integration and consistency.

The ENERGY-TRANS research programme includes vertical and horizontal elements. The scientific work is carried out “vertically” in five research fields each of which are sub-structured in 2-5 projects. The research fields are:

Research field "Technical-Societal Development"

Research field "Innovation Processes and the Transformation of the Energy System"

Research field "Risks and Regulation"

Research field "User Behaviour and Demand Management“

Research field "Planning and Governance"

Parallel to the vertical activities, the research design also includes two horizontal cross-cutting activities. Firstly, there are two integrative tasks that feed into each vertical research field and synthesize their results:

  1. Horizontal task "Sustainability Monitoring"
  2. Horizontal task "Foresight Integration"

Secondly, the research plan includes several “integrative key topics”, which are deliberately left undefined. Depending on the circumstances and the development of the side conditions, the steering committee is asked to set a theme for the year to come as an opportunity to address pressing issues and to initiate flexible research and dissemination activities in accordance with the revealed needs. Furthermore, the Alliance has reserved funds and resources for addressing emerging issues and problems when they become apparent. Since the Alliance is operating in a dynamic, constantly changing environment, it was felt compelling to sustain some flexibility for new projects or modifications of existing projects. In fixed time intervals, reviews are conducted to monitor the progress of the research activities and to identify possible needs for a thematic readjustment.