Kopernikus: SynErgie

  • Project team:

    Krings, Bettina-Johanna (Project leader); Linda Nierling; António Moniz

  • Funding:

    Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    Technische Universität Darmstadt, The Institute of Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) (Coordinator)

  • Research group:

    Knowledge society and knowledge policy

Project description

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 of SynErgie

The SynErgie projects aims to provide, within the next ten years and in line with all legal and social aspects, all the technical and market-related preconditions to synchronize the energy demand of the German industry to a significant extent with the volatile energy supply. In this way, SynErgie contributes to the socially accepted and cost-efficient realization of the energy transition based on renewable energies. The knowledge obtained also allows Germany to evolve into an international lead provider of flexible industry processes and technologies.

VISION: SynErgie expands the existing comprehensive measures of the German industry related to energy efficiency with regard to the requirements of a flexible energetic demand. With this novel concept we can achieve an efficient synchronization of the future energy demand of production processes with the fluctuating supply. This results in improved conditions for the companies’ energy procurement and opens up additional, useful, and easily available flexible capacities for the electricity system. The strengthening of existing and the exploitation of new flexibility potentials through innovative and novel technical solutions forms the basis for the energy synchronization platform. This platform regulates and controls the energy distribution within the production system and reacts highly dynamically to the electricity system’s flexibility requirements. In order to cover the energy demand in a cost-optimized way, the companies participate actively in the electricity market and influence the production planning predictively. Based on a freely selectable level of automation, operating reserve and flexible energy procurement are transferred into offers for the electricity system and are efficiently marketed in the industrial plants.

ITAS within the SynErgie project

In the framework of the Kopernikus project ITAS will investigate the impacts of fluctuating energy supply on production processes and thus on the companies’ work organization. This question is examined in three steps:

Work package I: Determination of operational problems due to fluctuating energy supply in selected companies. The following questions will be analyzed here based on, i.a., empirical studies:

  • Which risks are identified by the companies?
  • Which operational strategies have already been developed in this context?
  • How are the employees involved in these strategies?

Work package II: Evaluation of socio-technical systems with regard to a fluctuating energy supply. This work package is carried out in close co-operation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production (coordinator of the cluster).

Work package III: Development of exemplary solution strategies in the framework of a fluctuating energy supply for selected examples. This is also done in close co-operation with EPA Stuttgart.

The following questions are also addressed:

  • How can these solution strategies be used, are new production and business models possible?
  • How does a more flexible production environment influence work ethics, performance, sickness rates, occupational profiles and qualification of the employees?



Nierling, L.; Krings, B.
Transformation of work through sun and wind? Company strategies towards the German “Energiewende
2019. 37th International Labour Process Conference (ILPC 2019), Vienna, Austria, April 24–26, 2019 
Krings, B.-J.; Moniz, A.
The transformation of German energy system and its impact on work organisation in industry
2018. International Joint Meeting on Digitalization and the Future of Work, Hamilton, CDN, July 11-12, 2018 
Krings, B.-J.; Moniz, A. B.; Frey, P.
Bridging the sociological knowledge gap between technology and work
2018. 19th ISA World Congress of Sociology (2018), Toronto, Canada, July 15–21, 2018 
Moniz, A. B.
Technology and work: new sociological approaches?
2018. 19th ISA World Congress of Sociology (2018), Toronto, Canada, July 15–21, 2018 


Dr. Bettina-Johanna Krings
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-26347