Cluster of Excellence “Simulation Technology”

IBESSA: Interfaces between energy systems simulation and social systems analysis

IBESSA examines the life cycle of energy scenarios, in other words processes from creation to reception and processing by social stakeholders. IBESSA is a sub-project of the University of Stuttgart Cluster of Excellence “Simulation Technology” (SimTech).

Project Funding

University of Stuttgart Cluster of Excellence Simulation Technology (SimTech)

Project Duration

January 2014 to September 2017

The aim of this project is the examination of perception and evaluation patterns of (qualitative) energy scenarios by potential scenario users in politics, economy and society. Techniques for the development of socio-technical scenarios are continuously developed; as a result, the methodological coupling of qualitative social system analyses with quantitative energy system modelling in interdisciplinary energy research is becoming increasingly important. However, the questions as to how these scenario constructs – as a result of the different methodologies – are perceived by end-users, which patterns are used to evaluate the scenarios and whether there are differences between scenario formats, remain largely unexplored. One reason for this is the epistemic “mode” in which scenarios operate: scenarios examine future uncertainties, distance themselves from probabilities and only generate statements of possibility. The scenario community therefore regularly refers to the concept of “plausibility” as a meaningful limitation of the potential space for scenario development and evaluation. How plausibility is used in practice, what constitutes plausibility for the user and what significance it can assume in scenario research are examined by the dissertation project. As part of the project, a semi-experimental study was carried out that investigated how plausibility assessments of two different scenario formats can be made.

The results of the study indicate that the current scientific understanding of the concept of plausibility lacks distinctiveness. In order to create an adequate interpretation framework for the study results, the project attempts its own contribution to the conceptional honing of the plausibility concept and thus also to the classification and evaluation of scenario techniques.

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