The energy transition is more than the development of new infrastructures and technologies; it entails far-reaching changes in society and the economy.
The energy transition is more than the development of new infrastructures and technologies; it entails far-reaching changes in society and the economy. Shutterstock/Love Silhouette

Headline: Geopolitics of Energy and Industrial Transformation

A global transition to sustainable energy is accompanied by important changes in the geopolitics and governance of energy. Against this background, the research group investigates how the global energy transition is affecting the international political economy of energy and identifies implications for foreign policy and international cooperation. It focuses in particular on the development of industrial strategies to reach climate neutrality targets against the background of increasing geoeconomic rivalry. An important example for this is the development of an international hydrogen economy and related political and economic change.

Transdisciplinary research for actionable solutions

The team combines disciplinary expertise from the fields of political science, economics and the environmental and physical sciences with expert knowledge from practitioners and policy makers in the energy sector. By engaging practitioners from government, business and civil society in our transdisciplinary research processes, we co-create actionable policy proposals and solutions.


Techno-Economic and Political Dimensions of a Global Hydrogen Economy

Green and low-carbon hydrogen could help decarbonize high-emitting sectors. In this interdisciplinary project, researchers explore the underlying technological possibilities, economic structures and institutional setting of an emerging hydrogen economy and analyze their implications for a global transition to sustainable energy.

Politics and Governance of the Global Energy Transition

A sustainable, low-carbon energy supply is essential for achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Although fossil fuels continue to dominate the global energy supply, renewables are on the rise around the world and competition in clean energy technologies is intensifying. In this project the researchers aim to better understand these political processes.

Superconducting cables for sustainable energy transition (SCARLET)

Rising amounts of renewable energy coupled with an increase in decentralised power generation call for the modernisation and extension of the European grids. The EU project "Superconducting cables for sustainable energy transition" unites 15 partners from 7 countries around the goal of designing and industrially manufacturing superconducting cables in kilometric lengths. The promise of superconducting cables lies in their high efficiency, compact size, and reduced environmental impact.

Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: Sustainability Governance in the Hydrogen Sector

The establishment of an international hydrogen economy plays a crucial role in the development of a net-zero economy and the decarbonization of hard-to-electrify sectors. Limiting greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring sufficient renewable electricity generation for climate-friendly hydrogen production are central to this. However, the ramp-up of a hydrogen economy has implications that go beyond climate protection and decarbonisation. The project "Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: Sustainability Governance in the Hydrogen Sector" (GET Sustainable Hydrogen) maps the international sustainability governance landscape in the hydrogen sector and identifies opportunities, challenges and remaining gaps in this context.

Completed Projects

Global Potentials for the Production and Export of Green Hydrogen (HYPAT)

Germany will remain dependent on energy imports for the foreseeable future. This will include green hydrogen imports from regions with abundant solar and wind energy resources. The HyPat project is conducting a comprehensive global assessment of green hydrogen potentials, as called for in Germany's National Hydrogen Strategy (Nationale Wasserstoffstrategie - NWS).

Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: Implications of an International Hydrogen Economy (GET Hydrogen)

In order to reach its goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, Germany and the EU must rapidly introduce hydrogen (H2) as an energy carrier along the entire value and production chain. The growth of this hydrogen economy will spur the development of new trade relations and place new demands on the global governance of the energy transition. The project analyses the opportunities and challenges of these developments from a geopolitical perspective. The results of this research will support an international dialogue with stakeholders from politics, the business sector, and civil society.

Scoping Study: Monitoring the Global Hydrogen Economy

In a project financed by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the IASS will develop a concept for a systematic monitoring process for the global hydrogen economy. Insights gathered through such a monitoring exercise are intended to underpin strategic innovation and market support within the framework of the international hydrogen policy of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Social Sustainability Barometer of the Energy Transition

Increasingly, discussions of the energy transition are revolving around questions of fairness, justice, and social responsibility, with a particular focus on financing, public acceptance of wind turbines and transmission lines, the coal phase-out, and working conditions in the wind and solar industry.

A European Roadmap for Green Hydrogen

Hydrogen is widely viewed as the energy resource of the future - both in German and European politics. Under current proposals, hydrogen is to be generated using electricity from renewable sources and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry. The European Committee of the Regions has decided to contribute an own-initiative opinion to the political debate on the development of the European hydrogen economy. The IASS will play a supporting role in the preparation of this opinion.

Mapping of Energy Initiatives in Africa for the Africa-EU Energy Partnership

Throughout a structured and consultative discussion series, launched in May 2015 and spearheaded by the European Commission, the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, stakeholders asked the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) to create a mapping of energy initiatives to allow stakeholders and African policy makers to navigate the large number of initiatives currently active in the sector, as well as to act as a key first input in to a proposed panAfrican coordination mechanism in the energy sector proposed by the African Union Commission (AUC). This mapping was conducted by the IASS following a consultative approach at all stages of development.

The Future of Energy Supply in Africa

On behalf of the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the IASS conducted an analysis of available literature and data on the development of renewable energy in Africa, which served as an input to discussions following the Leaders'Declaration issued at the G7 Summit held on June 7/8, 2015 in Elmau.