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Energy Strategies Europe and Germany (ESED)

Welcome to the homepage of the ESED-group!

For much of its history climate action has been pursued by frontrunners at national and subnational scale, often with the intention to achieve a long-term transformation of the energy system. With the Paris agreement in 2015 the transition towards a low-carbon economy has become a global endeavour. The ESED group carries out research primarily on economic, but also on technological, political and societal aspects of the energy transition on national and multilateral scale. While we focus on the European as well as the German case, our research pursues a general scope towards national and multilateral policy efforts. The diverse academic background of the group is an asset that helps to integrate relevant perspectives and methods. We publish in peer-reviewed journals and provide scientific policy advice in dedicated assessments.



Core topics


Used Methods

  • Quantitative and analytical economic modelling, e.g. European electricity system model LIMES
  • Qualitative policy analysis
  • Stakeholder-dialogue


Current projects

  • 2016- AHEAD: Unilateral Action to Make a Global Difference: Towards Horizontal Leadership and Vertical Latitude for Germany & California, Stiftung Mercator.
  • 2015-2019 CD-LINKS: Linking Climate and Development Policies - Leveraging International Networks and Knowledge Sharing, European Commission.
  • 2015-2018: Wissenschaftliche Unterstützung zu Fragen der Entwicklung eines Governance-Systems für den 2030 Klima- und Energierahmen, BMWi.
  • 2015-2017: Hintergrundberichte zu aktuellen Entwicklungen in der Klimapolitik auf nationaler und subnationaler Ebene in den USA und Kanada mit Schwerpunkt Emissionshandel, BMUB.
  • 2013-2017 de.zentral: Institutionell und technologisch konsistente Energiestrategien für eine dezentral oder zentral organisierte Energiewende in Deutschland.


Details on core topics...

  • German and European energy transition

Planning & infrastructure

The decarbonization of the European power system is central to the transition towards a low-carbon economy. Long lead times in infrastructure deployment together with the technical complexity of the power system require a long-term and systemic assessment of transition pathways. Modeling the essential features of the power system and its interaction with other sectors of the energy system is a challenging task; in ESED we focus on developing smart solutions that capture the essential dynamics in low-carbon infrastructure development while at the same time keeping our models lean enough for large-scale sensitivity analyses.

Key research questions are:

What are the costs, benefits and trade-offs of different pathways for the German Energiewende and the European energy transition?
Which technologies are required to successfully integrate rising shares of renewables in the incumbent system?

People: Eva Schmid

Societal aspects of the low carbon transformation

An important challenge for a low carbon transformation is assuring the participation and thus acceptance of society. ESED investigates the issues with a particular focus on the German Energiewende, which is one of the very few cases worldwide where the transformation (at least for the power sector) is enshrined in a legally binding target.

Key research questions are:

From the perspective of technologies, institutions and actors – what is the difference between an energy transition in Germany that is pursued in a more central or decentral manner?

What is a consistent central or decentral energy strategy for Germany?

People: Eva Schmid, Christina Roolfs (PI group)

  • Power Market Design

High shares of renewable energies challenge existing power market designs. Main issues are their weather-dependency (wind and solar) and cost structure (high investment costs, low operating costs). ESED analyzes if and what design adjustments are required to integrate renewable energies cost efficiently into the market at a high level of security of supply.

Key research questions are:

How to optimally design power markets that are characterized by high shares of renewables? Which policy instruments can lead us there – and what are the characteristics and implications of possible pathways?

How can the high market risks of renewables efficiently allocated?

What is the social benefit of price responsive demand and how can it be implemented via dynamic pricing schemes?

People: Christian Gambardella, Oliver Tietjen, Michael Pahle

  • National climate & energy policies

Policy makers around the globe implemented a bunch of different climate and energy policies. ESED takes a closer look at the implemented policies also including underlying non-environmental motives (e.g. job creation, energy access, security of supply, health) which often are co-benefits of climate action. Special focus is put on the action of climate leaders with a view towards diffusion of their action to other countries.

Key research questions are:

What does climate leadership entail and how can it be put to use to propagate action in “follower” countries?

What are the main lessons learned from climate leaders?

What is the current state of climate action in other countries, and which barriers have they confronted when implementing policies?

People: Michael Pahle, Anne Zimmer, Karoline Steinbacher (associated)

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