Globalization, growing urbanization, demographic change, rising cultural and social disparities and the challenges of an ever-changing job market – a result of, among other things, growing digitalization – are all megatrends which affect society across spatial borders, economic sectors and generations. 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 Turn may potentially appear in the present, or at any point in the future.

Project

EnerTrend – Project Systemic Analysis of Reciprocal Effects of the Energy Transition in NRW (North-Rhine-Westphalia) with Central Megatrends

Globalization, growing urbanization, demographic change, rising cultural and social disparities and the challenges of an ever-changing job market – a result of, among other things, growing digitalization – are all megatrends which affect society across spatial borders, economic sectors and generations.

Topics as complex as those not only touch on all political dimensions but are of major importance for the individual, seemingly private ways of life of citizens. They also have a lasting impact on how commodities are produced and distributed. The large-scale project of the Energy Turn is also one such topic. However, it is not a trend, but rather a politically codified goal requiring cross-sector action from individuals, politics and the economy alike, if it is to succeed in establishing sustainable practices of producing and using energy.

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 Turn 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 Turn (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). The result is a reciprocal dependency.

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

  1. Which megatrends are of special importance for the realization of the energy transition?
  2. Which interdependencies exist between the megatrends, meaning the exogenic drivers (landscape) of the energy transition, and the endogenous developmental dynamics of the energy grid?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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 Institut and KWI will systematically analyze the reciprocal dependencies between global megatrends and the energy transition by taking into account the central questions above.

Project Management: Dr. Steven Engler (KWI), Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick (WI)

Project Coordination: Stefan Schweiger (KWI), Dr. Daniel Vallentin (WI), Katja Witte (WI), Jenny Zorn (KWI)

Project Staff: Benjamin Best (WI), Emily Drewing (KWI), Juliane Dürr (WI), Valentin Espert (WI), Felix Große-Kreul (WI), Julia Janik (KWI), Nora Schecke (KWI), Prof. Dr. Uta von Winterfeld (WI), Matthias Wolf (KWI)

Funded by: Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Innovation, Digitalisierung und Energie des Landes NRW; in conjunction with the Cluster EnergieForschung.NRW

Duration: 1/2018 – 12/2020