The research fields

The Alliance’s 17 projects are assigned to 5 research fields. The research fields show the breadth of content but also the strong interdependencies between the research projects in the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS.

In the “Technical-Societal Development” research field the potential impacts of technical options which are of key importance for the energy transition are being investigated. In the process their embedding in socio-economic framework conditions and in the European context is explicitly addressed. The energy transition requires innovative action. It is using new technologies and enabling new business models. The “Innovation Processes and the Transformation of the Energy System” research field focuses interest on the innovation process itself, referencing various problems and concepts from innovation research. If we view the energy system as a complex socio-technical system, it becomes clear that numerous interactions and effects can be associated with the new technologies addressed in the “Technical-Societal Development” research field but also with the new organisational forms and constellations of players in the “Innovation Processes and the Transformation of the Energy System” research field and that these interactions and effects might be unintended, almost unpredictable and also undesirable. These include, for example, systemic risks which can impact the functionability of the overall system or its sub-systems. This is the research focus of the “Risks and Regulation” research field.

The users of the energy system, i.e. the general public, play a key role in the “User Behaviour and Demand Management” and “Planning and Governance” research fields. The “User Behaviour and Demand Management” research field is studying the demand behaviour of private and commercial users. User behaviour is extremely important in the context of the energy transition because a shift of loads and energy efficiency potentials should be achieved on the user side in order to consolidate the stability of the overall system and to reduce the need for new transmission networks. The general public are also affected by the expansion of infrastructures such as high-voltage lines, wind farms and storage systems. Many experts foresee the potential for conflict here and anticipate protests. New processes and innovative approaches are required to prevent these conflicts or assist in resolving them constructively. These issues are addressed in the “Planning and Governance” research field.

The research fields provide the content-related and organisational framework for projects with relatively closely associated research objects. However, interdisciplinary and, at the same time, integrated research into the energy transition also requires close links between the research fields. These links are reinforced in the Alliance by means of the horizontal tasks and the integrated key topics . Furthermore, many people and/or institutions are involved in various research fields which further promotes such links.