Date: July 3, 2020, No. 45

Shaping the energy turnaround together

Start of the Kopernikus research project “Ariadne” with the participation of the University of Stuttgart
[Picture: Alpha Ventus]

From electricity supply and industry to the Paris Climate Targets, from individual sectors to the big picture: With the Ariadne project, a network of leading research institutions is now starting an unprecedentedly comprehensive research process to shape the energy turnaround. The project will be funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with a total of EUR 30 million over a period of three years. The aim is to better understand the impact of different policy instruments in order to develop socially sustainable strategies for energy transition. From the very beginning, political decision-makers, industry representatives, and citizens will be involved in a large-scale dialog process.

The energy turnaround currently seems to be caught in a maze of regulations to control the details. What is needed is an overarching perspective that shows politics a way out of this labyrinth, just as in Greek mythology Ariadne points the way for Theseus.

The Ariadne project, launched on 1 June 2020, aims to make such a thread available to decision-makers in politics, business, and society on the basis of evidence-based interdisciplinary assessments in order to provide an improved scientific basis for shaping the German energy turnaround from a multidisciplinary perspective. The scientists will not only work analytically: The core of the project is the joint, purposeful dialog and learning process between research, politics, and society. Ariadne develops, evaluates, and designs options for implementing the German energy turnaround in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

Involvement of the University of Stuttgart

As one of the major energy management institutes in Germany, the Institute of Energy Economics and the Rational Use of Energy (IER) at the University of Stuttgart significantly contributes to this broad-based research project using its comprehensive expertise in the field of energy system analysis (electricity, heat, industry) and its in-house modeling approaches.

Prof. Kai Hufendiek, Head of IER, said about the start of the project: “In Germany, Europe, and worldwide, we will only be successful in climate protection if, in the associated energy transition, we better combine what is socially desirable and politically and economically feasible with scientific evidence, because otherwise we will get lost in the maze.”

The fourth pillar of the Kopernikus research initiative

The BMBF project “Ariadne” is part of the Kopernikus research initiative. As the fourth pillar of Kopernikus, Ariadne complements the ENSURE, P2X, and SynErgie projects. Together, the Kopernikus projects constitute one of the largest German research initiatives on energy system transformation. The goal is to make a climate-neutral Federal Republic possible in 2050.

“Climate targets alone do not guarantee success; concrete measures are needed to achieve them. And this is precisely where Ariadne comes in to provide an overview and show ways through the complex technicalities of the energy turnaround,” explains Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and head of the Kopernikus project “Ariadne”: “With the unique pooled expertise of 26 research partners, we can create an overarching perspective, analyze the impact of policy instruments, and identify a whole range of possible policy options - and thus provide important orientational knowledge for decision-makers on the way to a climate-neutral Germany.”

Creating knowledge that provides the basis for decision making

“Power generation, heat, transport, and industry - Ariadne will produce detailed sector knowledge in order to identify target-oriented measures and methods, but always with the big picture in mind,” explains Gunnar Luderer from PIK, Deputy Head of the Ariadne project. “This overarching system perspective is key: It aims to provide a comprehensive overall picture with regard to the effectiveness of technologies and policy instruments, but also with regard to the impact on, for example, distributive justice, international competitiveness, as well as environmental and nature conservation.”

Social dialog process

From the outset, representatives from politics, business, and the general public are also actively involved. This social dialog process is moderated by a policy unit as the core of the project. “The energy turnaround can only succeed in a joint learning process,” explains Brigitte Knopf, Head of the Ariadne Policy Unit and Secretary General of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). “With Ariadne, we will decidedly address decision-making problems in politics, while at the same time initiating targeted debates in dialog with politicians, stakeholders in energy transition, and citizens.”

Findings and results of Ariadne on the energy turnaround will be made available throughout the project, for example in the form of policy briefs, thematic dossiers, background papers, visualizations, and interactive platforms.

The Ariadne partners:

adelphi| Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus – Senftenberg (BTU) | German Energy Agency (dena) | German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) | German Aerospace Center (DLR) | Ecologic Institute | Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Integrated Energy Systems (CINES) | Helmholtz Center Geesthacht (Center for Materials and Coastal Research) | Hertie School | Nürtingen-Geislingen University of Applied Science | Cologne Institute for Economic Research | Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility | Institute For Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) | Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) | RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research | Foundation 2° - German Entrepreneurs for Climate Protection | Foundation for Environmental Energy Law | Technical University of Darmstadt | Technical University of Munich | University of Hamburg | University of Münster | University of Potsdam | University of Stuttgart – Institute of Energy Economics and the Rational Use of Energy (IER) | ZEW - Leibniz Center for European Economic Research

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Hans-Herwig  Geyer
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Hans-Herwig Geyer

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