Future infrastructures for meeting energy demands. Towards sustainability and social compatibility
The energy transformations in Germany and beyond include an accelerated phase-out from nuclear energy, the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources and the ambitious increase in energy efficiency. These goals place substantial demands on energy research and energy policy making. This transformation is not only a technical but also a societal challenge. It requires an effective, efficient and socially compatible integration of technological development, organisational structure and behavioural adaptations. This integration is crucial for the energy transition to succeed.
What challenges are associated with this envisioned transition?
- Necessary changes in user and consumer behaviour
- Acceptance problems and conflicts relating to new infrastructures such as hydro-storage power plants or high-voltage lines
- Incentive systems and suitable political and economic conditions for initiating and promoting the necessary innovations
- Handling complex, uncertain and ambiguous risks associated with new energy systems
- Integration of public participation in formal planning processes
- Adequate operator models for decentralised energy systems.
For meeting these challenges, the Helmholtz Alliance has launched a research programme, that investigates the systemic interactions between technology, organisation and behaviour in Germany within a European and international context. The emphasis is on the demand side of energy systems and focuses on user needs, integrated scenario building, innovation diffusion, infrastructure planning and risk governance. The research team investigates the interfaces between technical and societal factors that significantly influence the prospects for the envisioned transformation process.
Based on the interdisciplinary scientific analysis, the team will develop proposals for designing effective, efficient and socially compatible transformation strategies towards a sustainable energy future. In addition to scientific insights it will generate “knowledge for action” which will be fed into social debates, stakeholder discussions and the political consultation process in a format that is appropriate to the relevant target audience.