Energy Transitions and Societal Change
The decarbonisation of the energy system is among the greatest and most important challenges of the twenty-first century. With the energy sector accounting for roughly two thirds of global CO2 emissions, the development of a climate-friendly energy system based on renewables is vital to tackling climate change. This transformation has far-reaching economic and societal consequences, making it an important field of study for transformative research at RIFS. There is far more to the energy system than simply technical infrastructure: The energy transition fosters the emergence of innovative business models and forms of organisation, drives the development of new practices and ways of life, reassigns responsibilities, reshapes governance, and redistributes power. Five research groups at RIFS study change processes within the context of the energy transition and develop solutions to safeguard their sustainability in cooperation with societal stakeholders. The social, political and institutional dimensions of the energy transition and the multi-dimensional evaluation of socio-technical options for the development of a low-carbon economy form a particular focus of this research.
The research group "Energy Transitions and Public Policy" investigates policy instruments and institutional regimes for the complete decarbonisation of energy systems in Europe especially.
The research group "Global Energy Transition Politics and Policy" studies the social sustainability of the energy transition as well as the transformation and potential of international governance and cooperation within the context of a global energy transition. This work is linked closely to the activities of the research groups "Social Sustainability of Climate Action and Energy Transitions (COBENEFITS)" and "Energy Transition and the Global South". The former studies the complementary benefits of renewable generation in India, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam, while the latter explores the potential risks to the countries of the Global South posed by a global energy transition.
In the group "Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy", researchers cooperate with European and international partners to study the potential benefits and risks associated with technologies for carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and their societal implications.
A Just and Climate-Neutral Energy Future
We generate transformative knowledge to accelerate the transition to a carbon-neutral energy system and unlock related opportunities to make the Paris Agreement a success for people and planet. Our research enhances understanding of the dynamics of change in the global energy system and related societal implications. By engaging stakeholders at different stages of our research, we mobilize their knowledge to develop innovative and forward-looking solutions and build ownership for their implementation.