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"Breaking the Rules!" – International Conference of the Leibniz Research Alliance "Energy Transition"

June 22nd, 2018

Climate change as a global challenge and energy transition as an attempted answer can hardly be viewed from the perspective of just one discipline - or one nation. This was once again demonstrated by the first international conference of the Leibniz Research Alliance "Energy Transition”, which took place in Berlin on June 14th and 15th, 2018.

To discuss "Breaking the Rules! Energy Transitions as Social Innovations", some 180 scientists from more than 15 nations gathered at the Social Science Center Berlin (WZB) to share and discuss their views on the energy transition, their research results and project ideas. The strong multidisciplinarity that characterizes the research alliance was also reflected in the field of participants so that the discussions often went beyond the concrete contents of the studies presented and touched on fundamental questions and desiderata of the energy transition as well as the accompanying research. The concept of the energy transition itself (for example in contrast to the necessity of several energy transitions at different levels) was also critically discussed. This year's conference focused on the social innovations of the energy transition and the social aspects inherent in these innovations, viewed from various disciplinary, inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives.

The IPN participated in the conference by organizing three sessions on the role of education, participation and ownership for the success of the energy transition and by giving two presentations. The sessions were moderated by Professor Ute Harms and Hanno Michel; Dirk Mittenzwei and Sarah Kellberg used the opportunity to introduce their doctoral projects to a broad and critical audience.

The program was rounded off by keynotes from Professor Maarten Wolsink (University of Amsterdam), who called for the “intelligent grid” as a further development of the smart grid, and Professor Elizabeth Shove, Director of the DEMAND Centre at Lancaster University, who pointed out the need for new perspectives in energy transition research, for example by pointing out the influence of apparently non-energy policy measures on energy-related decision-making.

Overall, the conference offered a lively platform for exchange across disciplinary boundaries and discourse to be continued in the coming years. The participants agreed that a successful energy transition requires enormous technical and social efforts, but that further joint research and development work and ongoing interdisciplinary exchange provide a fruitful and necessary foundation for these efforts.

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Prof. Dr. Ute Harms
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Hanno Michel
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