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Energy transformation in dialogue – from real-world lab to Karlsruhe’s transformation center

Energy transformation in dialogue – from real-world lab to Karlsruhe’s transformation center
Project team:

Marius Albiez (Co-project leader); Stelzer, Volker (Co-project leader); Richard Beecroft, Lea Herfs, Oliver Parodi, Andreas Seebacher


Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren

Start date:


End date:


Project partners:


Research group:

Sustainability and Social Transformation

Project description

The so-called energy transition, the integration of the German electricity, heat, and mobility sectors into a nation-wide grid with both centralized and decentralized structural elements, which is fed by renewable energy carriers, is an enormous challenge for society. The large-scale construction of, for example, wind power and biomass plants, the expansion of energy grids which changes the spatial structure, but also factors such as changing terms of use and pricing structures affect citizens and consumers directly.

The basic idea of the new project “Energy transformation in dialogue” is that a turning point in a society’s way of life and economic activities, i.e., the energy transition, can only succeed in the long term if it is accompanied by a good level of information of those affected and real opportunities for participation. The project shall contribute to an overall societal understanding of the energy transition – by providing and processing information, offering advice and further training, and bringing together the most different actors from research and society.

To this end, ITAS’s transdisciplinary experts prepare some formats for knowledge transfer and participation. With different intensity of participation and scope, these formats do not only address the broad public, but also specific stakeholder groups such as, e.g., the energy sector, industry, civil society, and consumer associations, but also teachers, energy consultants, students, and so-called early adopters. They include in detail:

  • informational and explanatory videos,
  • a tour on “sustainable energy”,
  • energy scenario workshops,
  • transdisciplinary project seminars,
  • citizen forums, and
  • real-world experiments.

All these measures can only be successful if the dialogue on the energy transition, which was started and is intensified in this project, is not a one-way street. It is about imparting knowledge and initiating learning processes, but also about sharing impulses from society with the researchers to make them fruitful. The Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis will use its experience, competences, and structures related to Karlsruhe’s two internationally renowned real-world labs, “District Future – Urban Lab” and “Urban Transition Lab 131”.

To consolidate and institutionalize the “Energy transformation in dialogue” project and other activities of the bidirectional knowledge transfer, KIT establishes the “Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change” (KAT). From 2020 onwards, it should provide as an independent institution the infrastructure and competences for carrying out knowledge dialogues, further training, and consultation, but also for research, teaching, and innovations related to sustainability transformations. Projects partners are, among others, the city of Karlsruhe, Stadtwerke Karlsruhe (the city’s municipal utilities), and the Karlsruher Energie- und Klimaschutzagentur (energy and climate protection agency). In cooperation with these partners, KIT and the Helmholtz Association aim at realizing one of the first permanent real-world labs worldwide – and, in this way, a beacon of sustainability transformation.

More information on current project activities You may find here: www.dialog-energie.de



Dr. Volker Stelzer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-23474