The method development research area develops and researches innovative methods for the interdisciplinary analysis of socio-technical systems. Special emphasis is given to Cross-Impact Balance Analysis (CIB) and the Group Delphi Procedure.
The research that ZIRIUS carries out in particular issue areas often requires innovative methods and methodological development. In order to meet the methodological requirements of our research projects as well as contribute to the social sciences’ methodological portfolio, the method development research area develops, studies and evaluates relevant research methods, their properties and effects as well as the benefits of combining new, innovative and established methods. Currently, the focus is on three main research areas:
Cross-Impact Balance Analysis (CIB) is a qualitative analysis technique that makes systematic use of qualitative expert opinions in order to develop qualitative scenarios or assess intervention effects in complex but weakly defined systems. ZIRIUS supports the CIB method, which is now being used internationally by numerous research groups, through reflexive method research, a method homepage and the maintenance of free application software, the ScenarioWizard.
The group Delphi method provides a framework for an (interdisciplinary) open and constructive discourse between experts and leads to a cooperative assessment of scientific issues. The integration of discursive elements also allows the participating experts to exchange substantive reasons and justifications for their opinions. These justifications can be collected for more in-depth qualitative analysis. ZIRIUS has already designed, conducted and scientifically reflected many applications of the method.
Through its interdisciplinary orientation and numerous collaborations with partners from engineering and social sciences, ZIRIUS is intensely involved in innovative cooperation formats for developing research approaches for the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. In addition to designing and further developing socio-technical context scenarios using Cross-Impact Balance analysis, we study interdisciplinary issues by using Delphi methods or socio-technical simulation models, or by combining measurement and survey data.
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.
Future Risks and Adaptation Strategies in the Andes of Peru
The systematic analysis of risks associated with various influences on water supply and demand is complex and has received little attention. This research project addresses this challenge by collaborating with various interdisciplinary research groups in Switzerland, Germany and Peru to combine data on water supply and demand in an integrated water balance model.
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?
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.
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:
- New methods for the construction of energy scenarios are developed in order to address the complex transformation of the energy system,
- the impacts of scenarios on energy policy and public debate are investigated from an empirical perspective,
- methods to systematically assess and compare various energy scenarios are developed.
After the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima in 2011, the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS was founded to supplement technically oriented energy research with a socio-scientific interdisciplinary perspective. The design for researching the transformation of the energy system was aimed at examining the interplay between technical potential, innovation processes, user behaviour, political and economic framework conditions, conflicts and control processes. ZIRIUS participated in all five issues.
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.
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.
Drinking Water Supply in Prospering Water Shortage Regions: sustainable, fair and ecologically
Using the example of the Río Lurín water catchment area in the region of Lima, Peru, experts from various disciplines are collaborating in the joint project TRUST to develop planning tools as well as water and wastewater disposal concepts primarily for drinking water supply. ZIRIUS coordinates the project with the overall objective of contributing to the achievement of the sustainable development goals.