KWI – Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Intitut Essen, KWI)

Project Project for Setting Up a Virtual Institute “Transformation – Energy Transition NRW”

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy) and Prof. Dr. Claus Leggewie (KWI)
Coordination: Dr. Steven Engler (KWI), Katja Pietzner and Dr. Daniel Vallentin (both Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy)

Cooperation Partner: Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy
Funded by Ministerium für Innovation, Wissenschaft und Forschung (MIWF), with the collaboration of Cluster Energieforschung.NRW
Duration: 10/2013 – 02/2015

Germany’s Energy Transition constitutes a massive technological, economic, social and cultural challenge for North Rhine-Westphalia’s society and its decision-makers from politics and business. With regard to the technological dimension of the energy transition, integrating renewable energies into the energy system and, at the same time, ensuring a high degree of energy security are among of the most important tasks. Other aspects of the intended great transformation of the energy system include compatibility challenges, investment and efficiency challenges (economic competitiveness and social responsibility), infrastructure and resource challenges, the need to overcome the natural forces of inertia of established systems, the social acceptance for the implementation of the change process, issues of inclusion and participation, and the policy challenges for the design of an integrated policy approach in a multi-level system as well as the need to extend the understanding of innovation (innovation system).
Being Germany’s centre of industrial operations and energy production, the energy transition leads to special challenges for North Rhine-Westphalia. NRW is characterised by a high concentration of energy-intensive industries and accommodates full chains of value creation for numerous industrial branches or products. Furthermore, North Rhine-Westphalia features high spatial heterogeneity (“Rheinschiene”, “Ruhrgebiet”, rural areas etc.). Considering socio-demographic parameters, NRW indicates the highest agglomeration of population in Europe and a high density of population with highly heterogeneous societal patterns. At the same time, North-Rhine Westphalia is home of excellent researchers with a large number of universities and independent research institutes.
The sustainable transition of the energy supply system of NRW shall be scientifically accompanied and supported by the Virtual Institute (VI) “Transformation – Energy Transition NRW”. This project shall prepare the set-up of the VI, develop clusters of prioritised research topics and identify relevant research institutes, which could become part of the VI. The project is commonly coordinated by the Wuppertal Institute and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) of University Duisburg-Essen. The focus of the Virtual Institute is on socio-economic implications of the energy transition process under explicit consideration of North Rhine-Westphalia’s specific framework conditions. The research is therefore highly complementary to applied research efforts at national and European level. The following three research clusters will be at the centre of the project:

  • Industrial Infrastructures (under responsibility of the Wuppertal Institute)
  • Governance and participation (under common responsibility of the Wuppertal Institute and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities/KWI)
  • Mentalities and behavioural patterns (under responsibility of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities/KWI).


Project Partner:
Forschungsstelle Bürgerbeteiligung, Bergische Universität Wuppertal; Bergische Gesellschaft für Ressourceneffizienz mbH, An-Institut der Bergischen Universität Wuppertal; Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universität zu Köln (EWI); Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institut für Energie- und Klimaforschung, Systemforschung und Technologische Entwicklung; Integratives Institut für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, Hochschule Bochum; Lehrstuhl für Wirtschaftswissenschaften der RWTH Aachen; Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik, Umsicht; Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund, Zentrale Wissenschaftliche Einrichtung der TU Dortmund