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Research Network on Energy Transitions: Bridging disciplines to address core challenges in Germany’s Energiewende

The transformation of the energy system is a grand societal challenge that implies profound changes not only to existing infrastructures, but also to business models, governance instruments and lifestyles. The successful transformation of the energy system will therefore also require significant social innovations, including new forms of public participation in the infrastructure sector, new modes of governance, new business partnerships, and substantial behavioral change.

The Leibniz Research Alliance on Energy Transitions concentrates the expertise of 20 Leibniz institutes working in the field of energy research. This interdisciplinary alliance serves as a platform for scientific exchange and as a contact point for external queries regarding energy research in Germany. In an attempt to foster and promote interdisciplinary research projects within the research alliance, the ReNEW project aims at providing coordinative and conceptual support towards three core challenges of the energy transition: (1) centralized vs. decentralized systems, (2) public vs. private interests, and (3) global vs. local effects.

Within the ReNEW-project, IPN coordinates the efforts regarding the core challenge of global vs. local efforts. Central questions of upcoming projects in that field involve the complex interplay between state-wide policy, regional governance, local participation and education (e.g. in the context of “smart cities” or electric mobility), and the effects of local or state-wide approaches towards energy transition on a global scale.

Current cooperation project: EnergyBio (Dirk Mittenzwei)

Publications related to this project:

  1. Wernecke, U., Schwanewedel, J., & Harms, U. (2018). Metaphors describing energy transfer through ecosystems: Helpful or misleading? Science Education, 102(1), 178–194. doi:10.1002/sce.21316
  2. Opitz, S., Harms, U., Neumann, K., Bernholt, S. (2017a). How do students understand energy in biology, chemistry, and physics? Development and validation of an assessment instrument. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 13(7), 3019–3042. doi:10.12973/eurasia.2017.00703a
  3. Opitz, S., Harms, U., Neumann, K, Bernholt, S. (2017b). Students’ progressing energy understanding across contexts from biology, chemistry, and physics. Research in Science Education. doi:10.1007/s11165-017-9632-4
  4. Nordine, J. (2016). Teaching Energy across the Sciences. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association.
  5. Opitz, S., Harms, U., Neumann, K., Kowalzik, K., Frank, A. (2015). Students‘ energy concepts at the transition between primary and secondary school. Research in Science Education, 49(5), 691–715. doi:10.1007/s11165-014-9444-8


Persons involved:
Prof. Dr. Ute Harms
Hanno Michel