Energy Systems

Energy Systems

Transition Processes towards sustainable Energy Systems

Dr. Anne von Streit
Dipl.-Geogr. Michael Jedelhauser
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität-München, Department of Geography,
Research and Teaching Unit in Human-Environmental Relations

To change an established and historically evolved energy system towards a more sustainable system requires profound societal transitions and huge adaptation efforts. Pioneers – i.e. strategic actors who advocate and actively promote change - play an important role in changing social (sub-) systems. The overall success as well as the pace of a transformation depends crucially on the presence of "windows of opportunity", i.e. opportunity structures which can be identified and used by participating pioneers.

This project analyses the systemic transitions and adaption processes towards a more sustainable energy system, using the case study of the “Allgäu” region in southwest Bavaria. Important agents and pioneers will be identified; their interactions, action conditions and motives will be analysed, and finally a software-based model will be developed.

Frequently, agents predetermine their action options by establishing contracts, programs, agreements or investments. As a result, these path-dependencies have crucial long-term effects regarding regional transitions of energy systems and their resilience. Therefore, there will be a special focus on path-dependencies in this project.

Research questions of this project are: How do pioneers influence the transition of the regional energy system? How can one operationalise resilience in this context?  How do socio-cultural, legal, ecological conditions and path-dependencies influence the regional steering and planning structures (Governance) in this transition?

The results – the quantitative model with crucial factors, interaction patterns, ... - will be analysed from a resilience perspective in order to develop a broader understanding of how resilience could be operationalised in transitions of complex systems. Finally, this project tries to generate recommendations on how decision makers (i.e. politicians or entrepreneurs) can successfully shape a resilient transition of energy systems towards achieving more sustainability.