EnerTrendSystemic Analysis of Reciprocal Effects of the Energy Transition in NRW (North-Rhine-Westphalia) with Central Megatrends



A project of the virtual institute „Transformation – Energiewende NRW“

There are trends which one may follow if one desires; they pass and wait quiescently for their revival. Apart from these short lived vogues, though, societal Megatrends exist – and following them is not optional. They affect the lives of the majority of people on earth and have the potential to permanently change our world. Globalization, growing urbanization, demographic change, rising cultural and social disparities, the requirements of an ever changing work environment – affected, among other things, by increasing levels of digitalization – shape societies across all spatial borders, economic sectors and generations. Intersectoral topics such as these aren’t only relevant for the political sphere; they are also of great importance for how private individuals live their lives. Furthermore, they have lasting effects in terms of how commodities are produced and distributed. The large-scale project of the energy transition also is one such intersectoral topic. However, it is not a trend per-se, but rather a politically codified goal requiring cross-sector action by individuals, politics and the economy if it is to succeed.

Thus, it is essential to explore what characterizes a megatrend, which megatrends are relevant – especially in North-Rhine-Westphalia – and which positive or negative effects on the large-scale project of the energy transition may potentially appear in the present, or at any point in the future. The necessity for research is evident when looking at the frictions of some megatrends in conjunction with the goals of the energy-transition: digitalization, for example, may be a key component for optimizing energy-infrastructures as well as accelerating the energy-transition (e.g. ‘Smart Energy’) while at the same time consuming vast amounts of electricity and resources. Then again, the energy-transition in turn influences global megatrends (e.g. E-Mobility). Consequently a reciprocal dependency arises.

Many new questions and research topics emerge from the various interdependencies between megatrends and the energy transition.

  • Which megatrends are of special importance for the realization of the energy transition?
  • Which interdependencies exist between the megatrends, meaning the exogenic drivers (landscape) of the energy transition, and the endogenous developmental dynamics of the energy grid?
  • In what way may knowledge about the pivotal megatrends of the energy transition and their reciprocal dependencies be used in order to help the energy transition succeed?
  • What special role does the state of North-Rhine-Westphalia inhabit in search of a holistic solution? What are the specific parameters, conditions and frameworks in this region?
  • Which local and regional contexts exist in NRW and what effect will the above mentioned megatrends have on the energy transition in different parts of NRW?
  • Which regional courses of action may be derived in order to seize the opportunities and take on the challenges which Megatrends offer for the implementation of the energy transition in the   different regions of NRW?

The Wuppertal Institute and KWI will systematically analyze the reciprocal dependencies between global megatrends and the energy transition by taking into account the central questions above.