Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies

Energy-Scenrios: Energy Scenario School (Helmholtz Research School)

The Helmholtz Research School on Energy Scenarios provides a structured educational programme for international PhD students in the research field of energy scenarios.

Project Duration

2011 to 2019

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. 

The research school is financed by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and is carried out in cooperation with seven institutes: three KIT institutes, two institutes at the University of Stuttgart (including ZIRIUS), the German Aerospace Center DLR and the Fraunhofer ISI. In order to cover the interdisciplinary setting of the programme besides energy economics and engineering, philosophy, social sciences and technology assessment are also involved. 

The programme is coordinated by KIT and ZIRIUS. ZIRIUS is in charge of the research school's location in Stuttgart and contributes to the curriculum. One of the research projects of the school conducted by ZIRIUS dealt with “Methods of social context inclusion in energy scenario construction”

The planned transformation of the German energy system is ambitious and currently unique. The lack of experience on an international level increases the pressure on the search for suitable ways to implement the energy transition. The infrastructure development, phasing out of nuclear energy and the expansion of renewable energies must be planned with foresight, since these projects require intense investment and are thus only amortised in the medium to long term. This makes it all the more important for politics and science to be able to rely on a scientific basis for evaluating measures and making decisions.

Using mathematical modelling, designs for future energy supply, distribution and usage structures can be developed in the form of energy scenarios. However, this requires assumptions about the future development of various social factors, such as population development, GDP development, oil price development, etc. The energy system transformation process is constructed based on these framework assumptions. In light of the close interaction between technological and societal development, the choice of framework parameters has a strong impact on the results of calculations, especially if rarely considered but equally influential factors such as the popular acceptance of the energy transition, change in values, political stability, vulnerability to economic crises, etc. are considered. In the current modelling practice, however, social contexts are taken into account only to a limited extent with little systematic attention. In order to better cope with the complexity of social contexts and the uncertainty and bandwidth of future social developments, a well-founded analysis of driving social factors and their mutual influences is essential for the credibility and validity of energy scenarios.

The dissertation project “Methods of Social Context Inclusion in Energy Scenario Construction”, which is embedded in the interdisciplinary Energy Scenario School of the Helmholtz Research Association and closely collaborates with that of theForesight project Helmholtz Alliance, Energy-Transdeals with the integration of social contexts into energy system modelling. It explores socio-technical connections and uses Cross-Impact Balance analysis  (CIB) as core scenario methodology to develop consistent social context scenarios that attempt to address and present the uncertainty of social developments. In a further step, the interactions between the designed social scenarios and the energy system are considered and analysed. 

Contact Person

Project Staff

Former Project Staff

Jörg Hilpert (M.A.)

Activ for ZIRIUS until 2018