General description of the Kopernikus initiative
The so-called Kopernikus initiative launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is so far the largest research initiative in the field of energy transition (“Energiewende”) in Germany. The initiative is named after Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer, who discovered the heliocentric model of the universe in the 16th century and whose name became a byword for the age of science. The main objective of the Kopernikus funding is to stimulate comprehensive and integrative research on the energy transition in order to make the current system in a safe, affordable, and clean way fit for the future. The consideration of social, environmental, and economic aspects is essential for the transformation of the energy system. To meet these requirements, the Kopernikus projects combine technology-oriented research with systemic and transdisciplinary approaches. Thus, the projects focus on research areas showing both a high degree of complexity and a high potential for the successful transformation of the energy system. The Kopernikus projects ENSURE, P2X, SynErgie, and ENavi which have already started research key areas of the energy system in close cooperation of science, industry, and civil society.
- The ENSURE project addresses new grid structures to transport and supply high shares of renewable energy in a reliable and flexible way.
- The P2X project focuses on options to store energy in gaseous, substantial, or liquid form.
- The SynErgie project researches technologies for adapting industrial processes to the new energy supply system.
- The ENavi project analyses the interaction of the energy system sectors power, heat, and mobility as a complex, interlinked, and dynamic system.
Hence, the four Kopernikus projects cover key areas and challenges for transforming the (German) energy system. ITAS is involved in all four projects and contributes its expertise in technology assessment and systems analysis in different ways.
General description ENavi
Social, techno-economic, and political constraints of the energy transition are subject to developments which can only be influenced to a certain extent by single actors and actor groups. In addition, the various options to intervene in the energy system must be seen as interventions in a complex system of systems which need to be fully understood and assessed concerning their impacts.
ENavi investigates the energy transition from this interdisciplinary, systems analytical perspective. Thus, the focus is on analyzing the interaction of the three sectors heat, electricity, and mobility, and the impacts of interventions in the socio-technical system of systems. Against this background, ENavi aims at:
- a better and deeper understanding of the complex, interlinked “system of systems” in the energy sector and corresponding areas such as industry, transport, or consumption,
- demonstrating evidence- and theory-based options for action resulting from these findings and showing how the different components of the future energy system can be systemically integrated while the main energy-political objectives and constraints are also taken into account,
- assessing as precisely as possible which impacts a certain measure (intervention) that should be brought about by the requested integration would have on the system of systems in the short, medium and long term, and finally
- carrying out a transdisciplinary discourse in order to generate options for collective measures (interventions) and assess the chances for their realization.
While doing so, ENavi reflects and integrates the ongoing work of the other three Kopernikus projects and encourages close cooperation.
ITAS within the ENavi project
ITAS is involved in four work packages of ENavi.
Within the work package “Roadsmap & navigation” (WP 1) we pursue one of the central results of the project that provides orientation knowledge for the energy transition: the roadsmap and navigation approach which outlines promising future transformation paths of the energy transition and simulates and evaluates impacts of political interventions. In doing so, we are entering unknown methodological territory. The roadsmap approach aims at identifying, disclosing, and constantly updating different transformation paths to achieve the intended target (sustainable energy system) by including the available knowledge based on the current state of scientific research. The navigation approach aims at analyzing courses of action (political interventions) of decision makers – and emerging external, non-intended events – regarding their implications on and consequences for the socio-technical energy system. On the one hand, this approach shall produce evidence-based knowledge for decision makers to judge on the prospects of success (and failure) of their interventions. On the other hand, we aim at generating knowledge to assess how the impacts could cause fundamental changes of the socio-technical energy system status and thus lead to new, fundamental transformation paths. The impact assessment focuses on a trial without error approach with an early and “virtual” analysis of impacts.
Within the work package “Behavior in the context of changing lifestyles and values” (WP 6) behavioral transformation issues are in the focus. The work of ITAS is dedicated to behavioral aspects within the mobility sector. It is widely acknowledged that the energy transition in Germany cannot be achieved without a simultaneous transition of the transport sector. Concepts for a transition of the transport sector are quite often dominated by technical solutions such as an electrification of drive trains. However, from a systemic perspective this does not go far enough. Such a transition must also include organizational changes, social innovations, and wise regulatory frameworks. Against this backdrop, the project investigates the transformative potentials of multi- and intermodal mobility concepts which combine different modes such as public transport, car sharing schemes (incl. e-cars), ridesharing, walking, and cycling (incl. e-bikes) and are tailored to different user groups. Firstly, ITAS is involved in the task “Mobility behavior as an element of social practices: interpretations and determinants” where we carry out empirical studies on mobility decisions together with our partners Secondly, ITAS contributes to the task “Intervention practices of professional actors: state of the art, impact assessment, challenges”. The main focus here is on the strategies of established and new providers of innovative mobility services (e.g. car sharing companies with e-cars, providers of mobility platforms).
In the context of the work package “Interaction with the natural environment” (WP 7), ITAS addresses aspects of resource use and consumption for the energy transition in Germany. We analyze system-relevant, technical questions regarding the resource efficiency of different energy technologies on both the producer and user side. The main focus is on the assessment of the use of critical metals like rare earth elements (REE). This work package aims to answer the research question: Which systemic effects are to be expected as a result of increased non-energetic resource requirements following the energy transition? ITAS focuses on a life cycle-based analysis and estimation of resource consumption.
The work package “assessment criteria” (WP 11) focuses on the assessment criteria of so-called “policy packages”. Policy packages are bundles of interventions which were suggested as solutions to existing problems in other WPs. To this end, a multi-criteria assessment criteria tool is developed. It uses different criteria and indicators as well as an evaluation methodology which are tailored to the specific valuation object. Legitimacy, ethical acceptability, resilience, legality (carried out under the direction of the respective partners in WP 11), effectiveness, cost efficiency and overall costs as well as sustainability (under the direction of ITAS) are used as evaluation criteria here. As far as possible, this is done in accordance with the stakeholders and political decision makers participating in the project.