Using Energy Supply Scenarios in an Interdisciplinary Research Process

  • Barbara S. ZaunbrecherEmail author
  • Thomas Bexten
  • Jan Martin Specht
  • Manfred Wirsum
  • Reinhard Madlener
  • Martina Ziefle
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 921)


The sustainable energy transition (Energiewende) is a multidisciplinary challenge. While for technical disciplines, the focus is on the development of technologies which can supply, transmit and store energy in a sustainable way, economic research focuses for example on the analyses of costs and risks of different asset portfolios. Yet another perspective is taken by the social sciences who focus on social challenges associated with the implementation of measures for realizing the Energiewende (decarbonization, high energy efficiency, high shares of renewables, nuclear phaseout), for example their acceptability. A solution for energy supply and storage which is optimized only according to one of these perspectives will, however, fail to meet other essential criteria. To develop sustainable solutions for energy supply and storage, which are technically feasible, cost-effective, and supported by local residents, interdisciplinary cooperation of researchers is thus needed. Interdisciplinary research, however, is subject to many barriers, for example the need to agree on a common analytical framework. In this paper, a process model for interdisciplinary energy research is proposed, in which specific scenarios are used to aid interdisciplinary cooperation and reciprocal integration of results. Based on a current research project, the phases of the model and the use of the scenarios in disciplinary and interdisciplinary work packages are described, as well as challenges and shortcomings of the model.


Renewable energy Social acceptance Economics Technology Interdisciplinarity Electricity storage 



A previous version of this paper was presented at the 7th International Conference on Smart Cities and Green ICT Systems (SMARTGREENS) (Zaunbrecher et al. [53]). Special thanks go to the KESS project members for the fruitful discussions which have contributed and led to this paper. Thanks also to Dr. Klaus Baier, Julian Halbey, Iana Gorokhova and Saskia Ziegler for research support. The “KESS” project conducted at RWTH Aachen University is funded by the strategic funds of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara S. Zaunbrecher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Bexten
    • 2
  • Jan Martin Specht
    • 3
  • Manfred Wirsum
    • 2
  • Reinhard Madlener
    • 3
  • Martina Ziefle
    • 1
  1. 1.Chair for Communication ScienceRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Chair and Institute of Power Plant Technology, Steam and Gas TurbinesRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  3. 3.Chair of Energy Economics and Management, Institute for Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN), E.ON Energy Research CenterRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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