Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

ENSURE – New ENergy grid StructURes for the German Energiewende

Project description


In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, Germany wants to shift its electricity supply to renewable energies as far as possible by 2050. One thing is clear, however: the energy transition cannot be achieved with the energy grid in its current form.

This is where the ENSURE research project comes in as part of the “Kopernikus projects” funding initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. With the aim of meeting the requirements of the energy transition, project partners from science, industry, and civil society organizations have been developing the energy network of the future within the ENSURE project – since 2016 conceptually, since 2020 in a simulation and in first pilot plants, and as of 2022 in real practical operation.

One goal of the second phase of ENSURE (2020-2023) is to design an overall concept for energy supply by 2050. Importantly, this needs to be embedded in the socio-economic framework and the results must be transferable to Germany and Europe. Since February 2020, ENSURE has also been preparing the development of the new grid in practice. The partners have jointly developed a concept for the “Energy Cosmos ENSURE.” The pilot region is located in Schleswig-Holstein, where many future requirements can already be tested today. As many applications as possible are to be realized there.

To this end, the project team is investigating the existing local conditions and identifying the technologies that can be established in the Energy Cosmos. Consideration is also being given to the extent to which the measures can be transferred to other German regions and how to equip Germany’s power grid for the future. In addition, the project partners are monitoring current developments in the field of energy supply and incorporating these new approaches into the conceptual design of the practical phase.

ITAS in the ENSURE project

ITAS already played a significant role in the development of storylines and socially accepted scenarios during the first project phase of ENSURE. In phase 2, ITAS is leading sub-project 1 “Socio-economic considerations,” which analyzes the dynamic interdependencies between socio-economic framing and the technical requirements for new energy grid structures for the energy transition. Implications for the design of new grid structures will also be revealed and evaluated.

Based on the established “Integrative Concept of Sustainable Development” (ICoS), ITAS is conducting a regional sustainability assessment of the “Energy Cosmos ENSURE” together with project partners. The aim is to evaluate the transformation paths developed in ENSURE for Germany and adapted to the region of the “Energy Cosmos ENSURE” from a holistic perspective.

To achieve this, first, a general concept for a regional sustainability assessment of energy systems is developed, which is based on ICoS. Subsequently, this concept will be specified for the pilot region. For this purpose, a transdisciplinary approach will be used to identify local characteristics together with regional actors. In order to develop indicators and target values, workshops will be held with the broadest possible social spectrum of local and regional stakeholders. The sustainability assessment will then be implemented on this basis.


Dr. Witold-Roger Poganietz
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-28180