Energy Systems

Energy Systems
Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

PIK’s Energy System Group, led by Gunnar Luderer, explores Transformation Pathways towards sustainable climate neutral energy supply and demand systems for the World, Europe and Germany.    

Research Teams

Energy systems world-wide will have to undergo a fundamental transformation within the coming decades to meet the requirements of climate protection, environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and affordable energy access especially for the world’s poor. To achieve the climate goals formulated in the Paris Agreement, near-zero emissions energy systems have to be achieved within the coming century. The need for deep decarbonization of energy systems coincides with a period of revolutionary technological developments for instance in renewable power generation, digitalization, mobility and urban life, with profound implications for energy systems.

The energy system group within the Transformation Pathways Department aspires to respond to the higher than ever need for systems-based, interdisciplinary science on energy transformations. Crucial question for energy transition research are:

  • How can zero-emissions energy systems look like?
  • How can the transformation be achieved?
  • How can the electrification of currently non-electric energy demands for transportation, industry and buildings go hand in hand with integration of large shares of variable electricity supply from wind and solar?
  • What is the scope for innovative carbon management processes to provide emissions-neutral materials, renewables-based synthetic fuels or even negative CO2 emissions?
  • With which policies can the country-level mitigation measures pledged for 2030 as part of the nationally determined contributions be strengthened in line with the long-term requirement of near-zero emissions?
  • What are non-climate environmental impacts of energy supply and use, and how can they be minimized?

Regarding methods, our research builds strongly on the REMIND model, which is complemented with sector-specific and bottom-up analyses. The REMIND modelling team has been a leading force in the advancement of the state of the art of integrated assessment modeling. However, further improvements in the granularity of sectoral, regional, technology and policy detail remain to be achieved to spell out concrete sectoral transformations in major economies and in the near-term, as well as their broader environmental and social benefits and adverse effects.

  • Pietzcker, R. C., Osorio, S., Rodrigues, R. (2021): Tightening EU ETS targets in line with the European Green Deal: Impacts on the decarbonization of the EU power sector. Applied Energy, 293, 116914, doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2021.116914.
  • Ueckerdt, F., Bauer, C., Dirnaichner, A., Everall, J., Sacchi, R., Luderer, G. (2021, forthcoming): Potential and risks of hydrogen-based e-fuels in climate change mitigation. Nature Climate Change, doi: 10.1038/s41558-021-01032-7.
  • Strefler, J., Kriegler, E., Bauer, N., Luderer, G., Pietzcker, R. C., Giannousakis, A., Edenhofer, O. (2021): Alternative carbon price trajectories can avoid excessive carbon removal. Nature Communications, 12, 2264, doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22211-2.
  • Bertram, C., Luderer, G., Creutzig, F., Bauer, N., Ueckerdt, F., Malik, A., Edenhofer, O. (2021): COVID-19-induced low power demand and market forces starkly reduce CO2 emissions. Nature Climate Change, 11, 193–196, doi: 10.1038/s41558-021-00987-x.
  • Rauner, S., Bauer, N., Dirnaichner, A., van Dingenen, R., Mutel, C., Luderer, G. (2020): Coal-exit health and environmental damage reductions outweigh economic impacts. Nature Climate Change, 10, 308–312, doi: 10.1038/s41558-020-0728-x.
  • Luderer, G., Pehl, M., Arvesen, A., Gibon, T., Bodirsky, B. L., Sytze de Boer, H., Fricko, Ol., Hejazi, M., Humpenöder, F., Iyer, G., Mima, S., Mouratiadou, I., Pietzcker, R. C., Popp, A., van den Berg, M., van Vuuren, D., Hertwich, E. G. (2019):  Environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of alternative power sector decarbonization strategies. Nature Communications, 10, 5229, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13067-8.
  • Luderer, G., Vrontisi, Z., Bertram, C., Edelenbosch, O. Y., Pietzcker, R. C., Rogelj, J., Sytze De Boer, H., Drouet, L., Emmerling, J., Fricko, O., Fujimori, S., Havlík, P., Iyer, G., Keramidas, K., Kitous, A., Pehl, M., Krey, V., Riahi, K., Saveyn, B., Tavoni, M., Van Vuuren, D. P., Kriegler, E. (2018):  Residual fossil CO2 emissions in 1.5–2 °C pathways.  Nature Climate Change, 8, 626–633, doi: 10.1038/s41558-018-0198-6.