Logo Forschungsbereich Energie

Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies

Energy Research Area

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

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

Model-based analysis and evaluation of the effects of grid self-sufficiency in regions in the German energy system

Model-based analysis and evaluation of the effects of grid self-sufficiency in regions in the German energy system.

100% renewable energy regions, bio-energy villages, and even cities like Flensburg and Frankfurt have set themselves ambitious targets concerning their energy supply and CO2 reduction. But what effects do these developments have on the entire energy system in Germany?

To the Project

The energy transition in Germany requires a thorough transformation of energy conversion, distribution and use, Up to now, research has mainly focussed on developing technical solutions for individual areas of the energy system. However, the energy transition requires more. The project “Navigation System for the Energy Transition” (ENavi) examines the interaction between technology development, organisation forms, regulation and behaviour.

To the Project

The project pursues pursues an interdisciplinary approach to the socio-technical energy transformation in Baden-Württemberg by focussing on the topic from an engineering, economic and socio-scientific perspective. While the project partners develop and model climate protection scenarios, ZIRIUS is responsible for the socio-scientific analysis.

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

IBESSA examines the life cycle of energy scenarios, in other words processes from creation to reception and processing by social stakeholders. Scenarios should be plausible; but what does this mean in methodological development? How do scenario users evaluate plausibility and what does this mean for the effectiveness of scenarios? IBESSA develops empirical and conceptual perspectives in relation to this.

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

Influence of socio-cultural factors on transformation paths of the German energy system

For the further development of an energy system model (Sozio-E2S) developed by the project partner Fraunhofer ISE, the investment behaviour of various types of stakeholders (cooperatives, small utilities, large energy suppliers) in energy technology is examined. In a further step, a group Delphi procedure will be carried out in order to assess future behaviour and roles of stakeholders in the energy system.

To the Project

Children and young people develop their own climate protection measures for their municipality. This reduces the discrepancy between being able to take part in decision-making and having to assume the consequences.

As part of the German National Climate Initiative (NKI), support is being given to German municipalities that offer their young people the freedom to develop their own projects. With WirWollenMehr, young people decide for themselves which climate protection measures they find sensible and necessary. The young people will be introduced to the subject of climate protection through a series of workshops. The jointly developed proposals and specifically planned measures will be implemented by and with the young people. 

To the Project

Members Research Area Energy


This picture showsSandra Wassermann

Sandra Wassermann

Spokesperson Research Area Energy


Sabine Mücke


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