The decarbonisation of the energy system poses many challenges, from major investments to infrastructure redesign.
The decarbonisation of the energy system poses many challenges, from major investments to infrastructure redesign. Bureau of Land Management/CC BY 2.0

Headline: Energy Transitions and Public Policy

The research group "Energy Transitions and Public Policy" conducts problem-driven research about the transition to a climate-neutral energy system. The key aim is to inform policy choices, policy design and evaluation for a rapid and socially just transition with robust scientific insight.

The group conducts research on public policies for all stages of the energy transition: from innovation and diffusion of zero-carbon technologies to institutional reconfiguration and policies for phasing out fossil fuels. The researchers are interested in the interactions between different energy and climate policies and other policy aims, including market liberalisation, europeanisation, and social justice. They address policies at international, national, and regional levels.

The Energy Transitions and Public Policy group focuses on empirical, policy-driven research and draws on disciplines including transition studies, political science, and economics. The research questions are drawn from current debates, and are sometimes co-created with stakeholders, including policymakers, industry, or NGOs. The group is currently involved in several third-party funded projects and was formed around a grant from the European Research Council (ERC).


Quo vadis, participation? How participation affects energy projects (BePart)

Germany plans to meet 80% of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Achieving this will require twice as much land area for solar and wind power infrastructure and it is likely that conflicts will arise in connection with this expansion of renewables. Participation in energy projects, for example through financial investments or public engagement in planning processes, is widely viewed as a way of building acceptance for the energy transition. In the project "Quo vadis Participation - evaluating participation in energy projects" (BePart), researchers quantify and analyse the effects of different community engagement methods in energy projects.

Measuring progress in the energy transition from a systemic change perspective

To decarbonise energy systems and meet the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement, ambitious policy action is crucial. But how do we know if energy transition policies are advancing the systemic change that is needed? In this project, the researchers develop and apply a transition policy evaluation framework to assess progress in the energy transition in European countries, seeking to draw context-specific policy lessons

Completed Projects

Market uptake of solar thermal electricity through cooperation (MUSTEC)

Concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in Southern Europe are capable of supplying dispatchable renewable electricity on demand both to domestic markets and to Central and Northern European countries. But various factors hinder their deployment. The MUSTEC research project proposes policy measures to overcome these obstacles.

The Sustainable Energy Transition Laboratory (SENTINEL)

The transition to a low-carbon energy system will involve a major redesign of the energy system with a focus on renewable energy sources. The Sustainable Energy Transitions Laboratory will develop, test and make freely available a modelling framework that helps a wide range of stakeholders make the critical decisions they are now faced with.

Identifying Positive Tipping Points towards Clean Energy Transitions in Carbon Intensive Regions (Tipping+)

If Europe is to reach its 2030 and 2050 climate targets, it will need to fully decarbonise its energy and industrial sectors. This may have serious effects on the economies and social structures of affected regions, and especially those regions whose economies depend strongly on single coal- or carbon-intensive sectors. In this project, researchers are investigating how regions can be transformed without triggering social or economic decline.

Solar Thermal Power Plants: Generating transformation knowledge with open data (Open CSP)

Solar thermal power plants are a controllable source of renewable electricity. The development of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies is promising, but their expansion has been overshadowed by solar photovoltaics, which are more affordable but less reliable. This project will collect and publish data relating to CSP projects worldwide with the aim of providing the research and policy community with a detailed, high-quality overview.