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Energy Research Area

Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies

In the Energy research area, we examine the energy transition from fossil and nuclear energy to renewables (Energiewende) and its associated challenges and solutions as a socio-technical transformation.

Energy research at ZIRIUS covers a wide range of empirical questions: Analyses of energy consumption and mobility behaviour of private households, examination of public attitudes towards energy-related issues (among others acceptance of different energy production technologies or the evaluation of future energy mixes).


We also explore how organisations shape or hinder the energy transition. In addition, we examine the relationship between external developments, such as social models and the energy transition.


The methodological, theoretical and conceptual approaches we use cover the entire spectrum of scientific disciplines and methodological orientations that ZIRIUS has established. Quantitative and qualitative methods of empirical social research, dialogical methods and scenario techniques are used in face-to-face events as well as online.

Much of the research in the field of energy at ZIRIUS is interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary. Of particular importance is the cooperation with our partners in the STRise research network.

Current Projects of this Research Area

In this joint project, scenarios for the German energy transition will be created based on a wide spectrum of energy and economic models. On the one hand, ZIRIUS supports the use of findings of social science acceptance research in energy modelling. ZIRIUS also advises the partners on the application of CIB analysis, which is used in the project to analyse social framework conditions.

To the Project

The Helmholtz Research School on Energy Scenarios provides a structured educational programme for international PhD students in the research field of energy scenarios. Three pillars representing the “life-cycle” of energy scenarios form the topical focus of the programme:

  1. New methods for the construction of energy scenarios are developed in order to address the complex transformation of the energy system,
  2. the impacts of scenarios on energy policy and public debate are investigated from an empirical perspective,
  3. methods to systematically assess and compare various energy scenarios are developed. 

To the Project

The real-world laboratory Future City_Lab seeks to explore potentials for change of urban mobility cultures. Thereby, a key focus is placed on the close cooperation with citizens and civil society actors.

To the Project

In a consortium with partners in engineering and economics, ZIRIUS uses focus groups and conjoint analysis to examine the societal evaluation of key technologies in the transformation process of the energy transition through focus groups. It also explores how socio-scientific data from conjoint analysis can be integrated into the evaluation of energy scenarios as a social dimension of sustainability.

To the Project

The junior research group DynaMo seeks to develop interdisciplinary knowledge about the interplay of social, technical and political factors in the transformation of urban mobility systems. By involving practitioners and stakeholders in a transdisciplinary cooperation process, (policy) recommendations for the implementation of sustainable mobility concepts are developed.

To the Project

Knowledge and Technology Trasfer Projecnt: Visualize the energy transition locally and make it come to life. Experiences and encounters as an engine for a collective social discourse
The potential of energy scenarios to support decisions for future energy systems is still not at his fullest, since the cognitive argument with different future scenarios seem intangible and too abstract. In order to overcome this problem, the knowledge and technology transfer project (WTT), aims to develop scenario technology for a better transfer of knowledge into society, and make future models a tangible experience that promotes a social discourse of energy transition.

To the project

The MANIFOLD project aims to enable energy system models, despite their primarily techno-economic focus, to better take into account the results of quantitative and qualitative empirical socio-economic analyses of the behaviour of actors in the context of the energy system transformation and, above all, to do so with less methodological effort.

To the project

In the joint project, an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary concept for the resilient design of the digital energy transition is to be developed with scientific and practical experts, as well as a resilience monitoring, the core of which is a stress test instrument. The main focus of the project is the development of this system-analytical instrument and the concept of its social integration.

To the project

The joint project SyKonaS develops a fundamental, conceptual and methodological approach for the analysis of actor conflicts in energy transition pathways. To this end, the CIB Lab analysis the interactions between conflicts on different levels of the transformation process on the one hand, and the institutional, technical, economic and legal framework conditions on the other hand (conflict lines). In order to support the knowledge gain with practical knowledge, stakeholders are involved who contribute to the identification of conflicts, the assessment of systemic interactions and the development of solutions.

To the Project

Members Research Area Energy


This image shows Sandra Wassermann

Sandra Wassermann


Spokesperson Research Area Energy

Sabine Mücke



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