Working Groups

The project members approach specific questions in interdisciplinary Working Groups (WGs). If necessary, further experts are invited to participate. The WGs have regular meetings. Workshops, Trialogs and discussion panels offer the opportunity for experts from academia to exchange information with players from the politics the industry and civil society organisations.

Current Working Groups

Energy Transition of the Built Environment

The heat supply of buildings plays a crucial role in the attempt to achieve climate neutrality by 2045. However, previous efforts regarding the German „Wärmewende” („heat transition“) have hardly led to a reduction of emissions in the building sector in recent years. Since the necessary technical measures directly affect people’s lives, the success of the heat transition also depends significantly on finding convincing answers to pressing social issues.

The ESYS working group „Energy Transition of the Built Environment“ develops policy options for a technically feasible, socially acceptable and economically efficient heat transition in Germany. How can knowledge and communication measures on the heat transition be improved? Which kinds of social hurdles exist – and how can they be dealt with? What should be done with worst performing buildings, i.e. those with worst energy efficiency standards? And how can this transformation be designed in a socially acceptable way? These and other questions are the focus of the interdisciplinary working group.

Completed Working Groups

Electricity market of the Future

The expansion of renewable energies in line with the energy transition in Germany and the EU is shaping a new dynamic on the electricity markets. Instead of being able to plan with long-term forecasts and large power plants, electricity markets will have to reflect short-term changes due to fluctuating renewable energy sources, many small market participants and flexible use patterns in the future. The planned phase-out of nuclear and coal-fired power plants reinforces this dynamic. The ESYS working group „Electricity Market of the Future“ is investigating how the market design could be improved to guarantee a cost-effective and secure supply in the long term. Among other things, the working group deals with the following questions: How can renewable energy plants best be subsidized financially, or will subsidies even become obsolete as a result of a high CO2 price? Can power plants and storage facilities, which are crucial for security of supply, be refinanced in the existing system? How can electricity markets become more flexible without threatening security of supply and cost efficiency?

  • Prof. Dr. iur. Jürgen Kühling, LL.M
  • University of Regensburg
  • Chair for Public Law, Real Estate Law, Infrastructure Law, and Information Law
  • IRE|BS - International Real Estate Business School
  • University chair holder
  • Prof. Dr. Justus Haucap
  • Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
  • Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics
  • Director

Integrated Energy System

Climate policy targets have been tightened in Germany and Europe, a global hydrogen economy is emerging, and potentials for removing CO2 from the atmosphere (negative emissions) are to be explored: How do these developments affect the energy transition? The working group „Integrated Energy System“ examines potential paths to climate neutrality before 2050 under these changing conditions. Based on a comparison of current energy scenarios and its own model calculations, the working group creates an overview of different pathways to climate neutrality and shows the influence of important technical and economic parameters and social preferences on the future energy supply. Which greenhouse gas reduction paths are required for the different sectors in order to achieve the German and European climate targets? Which technologies and infrastructures must be available by when? What role do changes in consumption behaviour or energy efficiency play? Which political and regulatory measures are needed by when to achieve this transformation?

  • Prof. Dr. Anke Weidlich
  • University of Freiburg
  • Department of Sustainable Systems Engineering - INATECH
  • Professor for Control and Integration of Grids

Hydrogen Economy 2030

Hydrogen is considered a key element in the energy transition for sector coupling: it provides the opportunity of replacing fossil fuels in sectors where the direct use of renewable electricity is not viable. For instance in the chemical and steel industries as well as aviation, shipping and heavy duty transport. The necessary quantities will probably not be produced domestically. Hydrogen imports could help close this gap between demand and production. The ESYS working group „Hydrogen Economy 2030“ is developing options for action for the market ramp-up for 2030, identifying advantages and disadvantages of the various options as well as research needs. The work focuses on topics such as availability, transport vectors, infrastructures, applications and certification. Which import volumes are feasible by 2030? Can existing infrastructures be re-used or are new ones to be created? How can the regulatory framework be designed so that economic business models can develop? Among other things, the working group will explore these questions.

Energy prices and security of supply

The Russian attack on the Ukraine and the resulting geopolitical upheavals are fundamentally changing the conditions for Germany's and Europe's energy supply. How could the demand for natural gas be met if Western states impose an embargo or Russia stops deliveries? How will energy prices develop in the coming years? And which choices do Germany and Europe have to ensure a secure and affordable energy supply for industry and private households? Based on two studies, the working group looks at the economic and grid-related effects of interrupted gas supplies from Russia in a time horizon up to 2030 and derives options for action for German and European energy policy.

  • Prof. Dr. Dirk Uwe Sauer
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Institute for Power Electronics and Electrical Drives (ISEA)
  • Chair for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage Systems
  • Chairholder
  • Prof. Dr. Karen Pittel
  • ifo Institute - Leibnitz Institute for Economic Research / LMU Munich
  • ifo Center for Energy, Climate and Resources
  • Director

Further information

Development of photovoltaics and wind energy

Photovoltaics and wind energy have made enormous technological progress in recent years and decades: The generated electricity is becoming cheaper and cheaper. The growth potential is large. However, the development is faltering and falling short on meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement. If Germany wants to achieve its national and European climate targets, the growth rate needs to accelerate. The urgency increases in the light of the growing demand for electricity and the new EU climate targets. The working group “development of photovoltaics and wind energy“ identifies barriers for the expansion of these energy sources and develops options to overcome them. The legal and economic framework, the planning and approval processes as well as questions of social acceptance and feasibility are being considered.

  • Prof. Dr. Ellen Matthies
  • Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg
  • Institute of Psychology
  • Chair of Environmental Psychology
  • Chairholder

Further information

Resilience of digitalised energy systems

Without information and communication technologies, energy supply has become inconceivable. They enable the flow of information between energy providers, consumers, transformer stations and other subsystems, monitor the grid and sound the alarm in the event of problems. At the same time, digitalisation involves risks such as manipulation, cyber attacks and defective applications. Energy supply is a critical infrastructure (KRITIS). A blackout would therefore have far-reaching consequences for society. The claim is: Digital energy infrastructures must be both secure and safeguarding. This means that they must be able to defend themselves against attacks and failures and at the same time keep the entire system functional. What opportunities and what challenges however could arise? Who are the main players and what is their responsibility? What needs to be done at regulatory level and in practice? The ESYS working group "Resilience of Digitalised Energy Systems" develops scientific based policy options to deal with these questions.

Further information

Electricity market design

The regulatory issues in the electricity market today are different from the liberalisation at the turn of the millennium, when the course was set for the German energy market design. The market design must therefore be adapted. In view of the foreseeable challenges, the development of market design should be fundamentally reconsidered in the light of past experience. Optimized market design can achieve climate protection targets more efficiently and effectively, improve the integration of renewable energies and contribute to supply security. For the target year 2030, the working group is determining how the electricity market for the decarbonisation of the energy system should be structured and which options for action will arise. To this end, the European emissions trading scheme, the promotion of renewable energies and the interaction of the electricity sector with the transport and heating sectors will be examined.


  • Prof. Dr. Felix Müsgens
  • Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) Cottbus – Senftenberg
  • Faculity of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Energy Systems
  • Chair of Energy Economics
  • Chairholder
  • Prof. Dr. Hartmut Weyer
  • Clausthal University of Technology (CUT)
  • Institute of German and International Mining and Energy Law
  • Director

Further information

Energy transition 2030

Climate change is a global challenge that can only be overcome by building a climate-neutral energy system worldwide. The coronavirus pandemic makes it clear how directly global crises can threaten us. However, the economic stimulus packages initiated in this context may also open up opportunities to support the long-term transformation process towards greenhouse gas neutrality. Against this backdrop, Germany's upcoming presidency of the EU Council offers the opportunity to further develop climate protection efforts in a European context. In its statement, the ad hoc Working Group "Energy transition 2030" identifies paths of action for an effective and efficient climate protection policy in the energy sector.

  • Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl
  • Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society
  • Department of Inorganic Chemistry
  • Director and Scientific Member

Further information

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)
  • Chairholder
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jutta Hanson
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt
  • Institute for Electric Power Systems
  • Department of Electrical Power Systems with Integration of Renewable Energies
  • Head
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Weber
  • University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Faculty of Business Administration and Economics
  • Chair for Managment Science and Energy Economics
  • Chairholder

Further information

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. Michèle Knodt
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt
  • Department of History and Social Sciences
  • Institute for Political Science
  • Jean Monnet Professor
Christoph Böhringer

Further information


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.

  • Prof. Dr. Gernot Klepper
  • Kiel Institute for the World Economy (ifw)
  • Research Area "The Environment and Natural Resources"
  • Sustainable Land Use
  • Team Leader

Further information

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”.

  • Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
  • Head

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.

Further information

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.

Consumer policy

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.

Further information

Energy scenarios

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.

  • Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
  • Head

Further information

Flexibility concepts

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. Dirk Uwe Sauer
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Institute for Power Electronics and Electrical Drives (ISEA)
  • Chair for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage Systems
  • Chairholder

Further information

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.

Further information