PhD thesis on energy scenarios

Christian Dieckhoff published his PhD thesis under the title "Modelled Future – Energy Scenarios in Scientific Policy Advice".

Energy scenario studies are published in large numbers and great heterogeneity. They are meant to support political decisions and, beyond that, the societal discussion about the future energy system in general. However, it often remains unclear in these studies which statements are exactly made with the scenarios and how they are justified – especially by using computer models. Furthermore, the process of generating the studies including their clients’ role is often not made transparent.

Christian Dieckhoff from ITAS has investigated these questions in his PhD thesis which was successfully defended at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in 2014. Now his thesis with the title "Modelled Future – Energy Scenarios in Scientific Policy Advice" was published by transcript (in German).

The thesis is based on a comprehensive empirical analysis of the practice of generating and using energy scenarios and focuses on semi-structured interviews with various relevant modelers of energy scenarios. Their results are interpreted by means of theoretical concepts stemming from both social and philosophical science studies.

Christian Dieckhoff reconstructs two distinct arguments which should – according to the interviewees – be typically brought forward in energy scenario studies. The first one aims at a comparison of possibilistic predictions, whereas the second one determines the effects of certain policy measures. For both arguments critical premises and the arguments’ roles in scientific policy advice are discussed. Dieckhoff identifies the epistemic state of the models used to generate the scenarios as an especially critical premise: In some cases conclusions seem to be drawn that are not proven by the models. Beyond that, three idealized types of study generation processes are reconstructed and their Specific requirements in terms of transparency in the context of scientific policy advice are discussed.

Christian Dieckhoff does not only provide a basis for critical reflection on the practice of generating and using energy scenarios with his thesis, he also identifies starting points for the improvement and further development of these scenarios. (19.05.2015)

Bibliographic references

Dieckhoff, Chr.
Modellierte Zukunft. Energieszenarien in der wissenschaftlichen Politikberatung. Bielefeld: transcript 2015
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