Current Working Groups
Governance for a European Energy Union
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement set forth the goals of limiting global warming to well below 2° C and to achieve a greenhouse gas-neutral world by the second half of the century. In order to meet this challenge, the energy supply in Europe must be reorganised in a common European system. The Working Group examines the legal, political and economic framework of European energy policy, particularly with regard to existing barriers to the establishment of a European energy union. On this basis, governance guidelines are developed for a sustainable, secure and affordable energy union aiming at achieving complete carbon neutrality. The WG attempts to show the best ways how the process could be managed, how a fair and efficient distribution of the various tasks could be organised within the EU, and how civil society and the private sector should be involved.
- Prof. Dr. Sabine Schlacke
- WWU University of Münster
- Faculty of Law
- Institute for Environmental and Planning Law
- Managing Director
- Prof. Dr. Michèle Knodt
- Technische Universität Darmstadt
- Department of History and Social Sciences
- Institute for Political Science
- Jean Monnet Professor
- Prof. Dr. Christoph Böhringer
- Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
- Department of Economics
- Chair of Economic Policy
Centralised vs. decentralised power supply
Due to the increasing use of renewable energies, electricity is no longer produced only in large power plants, but also in smaller generation units. More and more private individuals, companies or municipalities are feeding power from their own wind or photovoltaic plants into the grid. Many citizens regard this development as an opportunity to assume an active part in the energy transition. How the trend towards a decentralised energy supply will affect the overall system remains, however, unclear. It might result in a functioning new system architecture, but it is also possible that the ensuing fragmentation of the energy system may increasingly lead to problems.
The Working Group attempts to demonstrate how centralised and decentralised elements can be integrated into a stable supply system. For this purpose, it analyses technical possibilities, legal framework conditions as well as political, economic and social issues.
- Prof. Dr. Peter Dabrock
- Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
- Department of Theology
- Chair of Systematic Theology II (Ethics)
- Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jutta Hanson
- Technische Universität Darmstadt
- Institute for Electric Power Systems
- Department of Electrical Power Systems with Integration of Renewable Energies
- Prof. Dr. Christoph Weber
- Universität Duisburg-Essen
- Faculty of Business Administration and Economics
- Chair for Managment Science and Energy Economics
Bioenergy has several advantages: Being easily storable, it can compensate for fluctuations in wind and solar energy or generate heat. Biomass can serve as a basis for fuels or can be used in combination with the CCS technology, thus removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. According to climate models, this will be necessary in a few decades. But there are also disadvantages to consider: Unless sustainability criteria are enforced, the cultivation of energy crops will not only produce greenhouse gases, but will have a negative impact both in terms of biodiversity and soil quality, while also causing water pollution. The Working Group attempts to identify the best options for a sustainable and thus climate-friendly use of bioenergy for the energy supply.
Completed Working Groups
Path dependencies in the transport sector
New energy infrastructures, in particular, have to be planned well in advance and require high investments. A path once chosen is hence difficult to leave – in other words path dependencies arise. On the other hand, nobody can predict exactly which technologies will be available in 2050 and what they will cost. So how can we judiciously decide today what the energy system in 2050 may require? The Working Group approaches this challenge in the exemplary fields of “urban mobility” and “freight transport”.
Coupling different energy sectors
If the political goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 to 95 percent is to be met, it will not suffice to merely switch power generation to renewable sources. The heat supply and transport sectors will likewise need to become more climate-friendly. To this end, the individual sectors are to be more closely interlinked. Electrification serves as a starting point: In future, electric vehicles and heat pumps can be operated exclusively with power from renewable sources. Power-to-X technologies can be used to produce synthetic gas and fuels. The Working Group analyses possible development paths for a closer coupling of the different sectors and describes the respective consequences for the future energy supply.
Risk and resilience
A collapse of the energy supply system would threaten both the economy and society. Therefore, the energy system should be as robust as possible – ideally even “learning” from accidents so as to be better prepared for future events. How then can a secure power supply be ensured even in the simultaneous occurrence and interaction of several unforeseen events? And how does the energy transition affect the robustness of the system? A Working Group has elaborated exemplary “threat scenarios” which are described in an analysis. The subsequent position paper contains measures for a resilient energy system of the future.
In order to reduce the overall energy consumption, private consumers will also have to economise on energy. However, a high electricity bill very rarely induces people to actively change their energy consumption patterns. On the basis of behavioural findings, a Working Group has analysed, among other things, what incentives would indeed motivate private households to save energy.
Energy consumption has an impact on the demand for raw materials: While the consumption of coal, oil and gas is to be reduced in the long term, bioenergy can help to offset the fluctuating supply of wind and solar energy. At the same time, we require more metals in order to expand renewable energy plants, storage systems and grids. The Working Group has identified ways for Germany to become more independent of raw material imports as well as measures that can help to ensure the supply in the long term.
Energy scenarios frequently serve as a basis for political decisions. It is therefore of major importance that the results are both comprehensible and verifiable. However, many implementing institutions do not disclose their calculation models. Also, it is not always clear whether the commissioning institutions have influenced the results by any provisions they may have made. The Working Group has set up guidelines for the development of energy scenarios in order to increase their transparency.
Due to the weather, the power generation from wind and photovoltaics is volatile. Flexibility technologies are necessary to balance the ensuing fluctuations – by means of flexibly dispatchable power plants, storage systems, or the balancing of power demand and power feed-in (demand-side management). The challenge is to identify the technologies that combine stability, sustainability, cost efficiency and social acceptability. A Working Group has developed a special calculation model enabling the comparison of around 130 different constellations.
- Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Elsner
- Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT
- Institute Director
- Prof. Dr. Dirk Uwe Sauer
- RWTH Aachen University
- Institute for Power Electronics and Electrical Drives (ISEA)
- Chair for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage Systems
Incorporating the German Energiewende into a comprehensive European approach
In order to mitigate global warming, as many countries as possible must strive to make their energy supply systems more sustainable. A sensible approach would be to interlink the German energy transition efforts more closely with European energy and climate policy. A Working Group has elaborated the requirements for an internationally compatible European model, focusing in particular on the European emissions trading system, the promotion of renewable energies and the EU’s internal electricity market.