Research group “Radioactive Waste Management as a Socio-Technical Project” (EndFo)

Nuclear waste management and nuclear phase-out as part of the transformation of the energy infrastructure

The phasing out of complex large-scale technologies such as nuclear energy or coal is not only a technical or management problem but also a socio-technical challenge. Besides the technical aspects of the conversion of large-scale infrastructures and the economic reorientation, it is necessary to reflect on social expectations, examine their arguments, and discuss them appropriately. The transformation of nuclear waste management and the associated interactions are systematically investigated using concepts of technology assessment.

The research group focuses on the societal project of realizing a repository for nuclear waste. It interprets this project and related policies as part of a “socio-technical transformation” process. Inter- and transdisciplinary studies look into the design of these transformations and address key questions of technical infrastructures. Particular attention is paid to the interfaces between different social subsystems (science, politics, civil society, governmental action).

In view of expected conflicts, the anticipatory shaping of sectoral policy and dialogue is an important research perspective. Long-term governance approaches and analyses on late-modern societies are taken into account. This includes questions of retrievability, reversibility of decisions, and opportunities for collective learning. An important research objective is to theoretically underpin and further develop interdisciplinary research into integrated repository research.