Current Projects

Review related research being done by our project partners.

Research team work – CC BY 2.0 – Picture by SupportPDX

  • 2020 – 2023

    ENergy TRANsitions from Coal and carbon: Effects on Societies (ENTRANCES)

    Focus / Key Research Questions: ENTRANCES ( aims to develop a theoretically-based and empirically-grounded understanding of cross-cutting issues related to SSH aspects (socio-economic; socio-technical; socio-ecological; socio-cultural; socio-political and socio-psychological; and gender related) of “Clean Energy Transition” in European coal mining and carbon-intensive regions. The main research questions that the project intends to answer include SSH aspects of transitioning to clean energy and the challenges faced by the selected seven coal mining and six carbon-intensive regions in the process of transition. ENTRANCES will enable co-creation of a set of recommendations from the project findings using multi-level perspectives in order to contribute towards a common vision by taking into account societal implications and opportunities of “Clean Energy Transition”.

    Approach / Key Methods: Desk research, semi structured interviews, focus groups, survey questionnaires, text research guides, quantitative macro-economic modelling, graphical analysis, quantitative & qualitative life cycle assessment

    Lead partner: University of A Coruña (UDC), Spain

    Contributing partners: ENEA (Italy), K&I srls (Italy), IWH (Germany), IOER (Germany), NTNU (Norway), EURADA (Belgium), IGSMiE (Poland), UAIC (Romania), SPI (Portugal), WECF (France) CSPS (Slovakia), CU (The UK), and ZSI (Austria)

    Funder: European Commission (EC)’s Horizon 2020 programme

    Regional Focus: Silesia (Poland), Lusatia (Germany), Rhineland (Germany), Central Germany  (Germany), Jiu Valley (Romania), Sulcis Iglesiente (Italy), Upper Nitra (Slovakia), Brindisi (Italy), Kraków Metropolitan Area (Poland), As Pontes (Spain), Upper Styria (Austria) Stavanger (Norway), and South Wales (United Kingdom)

  • 2020 – 2023

    TIPPING+ – Enabling Positive Tipping Points towards clean-energy transitions in Coal and Carbon Intensive Regions

    Focus / Key Research Questions: TIPPING+ will provide an empirical in-depth social science understanding of fundamental changes in sociodemographic, geographical, psychological, cultural, political, and economic patterns which give rise to Social-Ecological Tipping Points (SETPs), both positive and negative in relation to socio-energy regional systems. The overall goal of TIPPING+ is to understand:

    • Why at one or several points in time, Coal and Carbon Intensive Regions (CCIRs) flip into fundamentally different development trajectories and embrace low carbon, clean-energy transformations?
    • What are the actual effects of such fundamental changes on the livelihoods and the sustainability of regional economies and social-ecological systems?
    • How can the knowledge from the recent past about the multiple social-ecological processes leading to sudden and fundamental changes in these regions be used to identify the most effective tipping interventions that enact low-carbon, clean-energy transitions in other regions?

    Towards this goal, main focus of TIPPING+ is the participatory co-production of knowledge on the driving forces and deliberate tipping interventions leading to the emergence of positive tipping points toward clean energy transitions in European CCIRs.


    Approach / Key Methods: Case studies, Quantitative modelling, Literature reviews, Stakeholder interviews, Stakeholder workshops

    Lead partner: GCF – Global Climate Forum e.V.

    Contributing partner: TU Delft, CIRPA – Università Degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V., Paris School of Economics, Nordland Research Institute, Universitaet Graz, Technoeconomics of Energy Systems laboratory-UPRC, Palacky University Olomouc, Westport Consulting, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Institute for Structural Research, Aalborg Universitet, PT Sustainability and Resilience, Eco-union

    Funder: EC, H2020

    Regional Focus: Europe with a focus in Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Germany, Greenland, Greece, Italy, Norway, Romania and Spain. International with a focus on Indonesia, Canada, and Australia.

  • 2020 – 2024

    Post-carbon: Imagining the future to unmake the present

    Focus: The project explores how we can ‘unmake’ fossil fuel infrastructures, and the social, economic, and political relations entangled in them. It sees the anticipated disappearance of fossil fuels not as a passive process of loss, but as requiring an active, and contested, process of ‘unmaking’ the relations sustained through them. But, through dismantling high-carbon infrastructures today to pre-empt future losses, present and future also become deeply entangled. The 2 key questions in this project are therefore:

    1) What forms of social and material life are ‘unmade’ through attempts to ‘green’ energy infrastructures, and

    2) What role do imaginaries of the ‘new’ play in governing these processes?

    By asking how, and by whom, low-carbon futures are imagined, negotiated and enacted, this research will thus shine a new light on how a just transition might be achieved.

    Methods: Qualitative – interviews, workshops and document analysis

    Partner Institutions: York University (Canada), Utrecht University (Netherlands)

    Funder: Formas – the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development

    Regional focus: UK, Netherlands, and Canada

  • 2020 – 2024

    CINTRAN – Carbon Intensive Regions in Transition

    Focus / Key Research Questions: Examining structural changes with implications for regional economies, labour markets, as well as for the regions’ social, political, cultural and demographic composition. To minimize consequences such as serious economic impacts, societal upheaval, aggravated social inequalities and hardship it is necessary to better understand the patterns and dynamics of structural change in response to decarbonization at the regional level, to understand which parameters determine the pace of transformation as well as the capacity of regional actors to adapt and pro-actively create alternative structures. Four different case studies are selected to draw generalizable insights for other regions in Europe and neighbouring countries.

    Approach / Key Methods: Quantitative modeling with qualitative in-depth analysis

    Project partner: Wuppertal Institut, Chalmers Tekniska Hoegskola, E3-Modelling, Iclei European Secretariat, University of Sussex, TU Berlin, Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche, WiseEuropa, Universitetet i Bergen, Eesti Keskkonnauuringute Keskus, Ida-Virumaa Omavalitsuste Liit, Regional Development Fund (Region of Western Macedonia), Innovationsregion Rheinisches Revier

    Funder: EC, H2020

    Regional Focus: Europe with focus on Greece, Estonia, Germany and Poland

  • 2019 – 2021

    Project COALSTAKE

    The Political Economy of Coal Policy: Comparative Analyses of Stakeholder Strategies and Resource Industries’ Embeddedness in the International Economy

    The team consisting of the University of Basel, the University of St.Gallen, and the University of Toronto is running a research program that investigates sources of cross-national differences in coal policy-making.

    Our focus is on the links among energy stakeholders’ resource endowments, practices, and the evolution of discourses around coal energy. The project also addresses issues around local resource-production industries, their positioning in global resource trade, and their employees,  because sustainable fossil fuel policies are not possible without addressing these issues.

  • 2019 – 2021

    Demonstration of system integration with smart transmission grid and storage technologies with increasing share of renewables (OSMOSE)

    Focus / Key Research Questions: The project aims for the development of flexibilities which can be used for a better integration of RES. The approach chosen is global as it considers at the same time, the increased need of flexibilities in the system (mainly improved balance of supply and demand in electricity markets, provision of existing and future system services and allowance of a dynamic control of electricity flows) and the sources of flexibilities (RES, demand-response, grid and new storages). The chosen global approach addresses all system requirements to capture the synergies proposed by the different solutions in order to avoid stand-alone solutions that might be less efficient in terms of overall efficiency. For example a storage operator plans to install batteries in order to provide balancing services. By locating his solution in a network-constrained area, he could contribute at the same time to the management of congestion and by this reduce the costs for the society too.

    Approach / Key Methods: Quantiative Modeling

    Lead partner: RTE

    Contributing partner: TU Berlin and  32 other partners from 9 countries

    Funder: EC, H2020

  • 2019 – 2022


    Focus / Key Research Questions: Establishing communication and interaction among very different models currently stand-alone and unconnected. Creating a shared platform, making existing tools available and linked. The goal is to run more consistent analyses for the energy system transition. In this project, different models will be linked to create a set of open, integrated modeling tools.

    Approach / Key Methods: Quantitative Modeling

    Lead partner: SINTEF

    Contributing partner: TU Berlin, IIASA, NTNU, DIW, …

    Funder: EC, H2020

    Regional Focus: Europe

  • 2019 – 2022


    Focus / Key Research Questions: coordination and support action: The project aims to support a number of coal-intensive regions around Europe to design (or re-design) their research and innovation strategies in order to facilitate their transition towards a sustainable energy system

    Approach / Key Methods: stakeholder engagement, joint development of R&I strategies, roadmaps and decision support tools, best practice analysis, assessment of social, technological and environmental challenges, elaboration of guidelines, support R&I cooperation between coal intensive regions in Europe and beyond

    Lead partner: WIP Renewable Energy in Munich

    Contributing partner: Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving in Greece, Research Institute for Post-Mining Landscapes in Germany, University of Strathclyde in the UK, Black Sea Energy Research Centre in Bulgaria, Güssing Energy Technologies GmbH in Austria, The Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres in Belgium, ISPE DESIGN and CONSULTING in Romania, Energoprojekt ENTEL in Serbia, Coal Energy Technology Institute in Ukraine, University of Agriculture in Krakow in Poland, Charles University in Czech Republic, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague in Czech Republic, Jiu Valley Social Institute Association in Romania

    Funder: European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation

    Regional Focus: TRACER focuses on nine regions. Seven are located in EU Member States – South East Bulgaria, North West Bohemia (CZ), Lusatian Lignite District (DE), West Macedonia (GR), Upper Silesian Coalfield (PL), West Romania and Wales (UK). Two are located in countries outside the EU – Kolubara (Serbia) and Donetsk (Ukraine).

  • 2018 – 2021

    Future of Fossil Fuels

    Focus / Key Research Questions: Investigation of previously under-researched aspects of decarbonizing the German electricity sector in the European context and to derive an assessment of concrete policy instruments for both the German and the European level.
    Different partners provide a trans- and interdisciplinary elements, which allow to better understand the various economic, technical, social, and political hurdles of the upcoming transformation away from fossil fuels in Europe.

    Approach / Key Methods: Quantitative Modelling by PIK and DIW. Qualitative and quantitative approaches by TU Berlin. Focus on Coal and Gas.

    Lead partner: TU Berlin

    Contributing partner: DIW, PIK

    Funder: BMBF

    Regional Focus: Germany, Poland, UK, Netherlands

  • 2018 – 2021

    Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia

    Focus/ Key research questions: The interdisciplinary research team explores the potential for a structural transformation driven by cooperation in the German region of Lusatia. In so doing, it takes a transformative approach to a situation characterised by tensions and social conflict. The following three practice-oriented questions guide our transformative research: (1) What kinds of cooperation are conducive to democratic structural change in Lusatia and how can local knowledge be harnessed for this purpose? (2) How do national and international policy frameworks, for example in relation to climate protection, influence transformation in Lusatia? (3) How can tensions between the economic and democratic spheres be addressed to promote a transformation that is both fair and sustainable?


    Approach/ Key Methods: Transdisciplinary qualitative research


    Project partners: Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Potsdam, Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IÖR)


    Funder: BMBF

  • 2018 – 2022


    Focus / Key Research Questions: ‘Contractions’ breaks away from the well-trodden past energy transitions research which focuses on the growth of new energy industries to study the decline of energy industries which are just as important for climate change mitigation.

    Approach / Key Methods: During the project, we seek to understand the causes and consequences of declining energy industries (contractions). We will identify and quantify historical cases of energy industry contractions and compare them to the those needed to meet global climate targets. We explore several questions:

    • How frequently and under what conditions do energy industries contract?
    • What are the social and political consequences of energy industry contractions, and are there policies that have been successful in making these less painful?
    • How do historic energy industry contractions compare to future contractions which we would need to avoid massive climate change?

    Lead partner: IIASA

    Funder: RCN

  • 2018

    Regions Beyond Coal

    Focus / Key Research Questions: Τake the next step to the post coal era by reviving local economies and ensuring a Just Transition for all = strategy aiming at creating transformative pathways for local economies towards sustainable economic activities, as well as minimising hardships for workers and their communities in the associated industries, through active political and financial support.

    Approach / Key Methods: Advocacy, Knowledge exchange, Stakeholder engagement

    Lead partner: WWF

    Funder: EUKI

    Regional Focus: Greece, Poland, Germany and Bulgaria

  • 2018


    Focus / Key Research Questions: How can we support the decarbonisation of “high-carbon industry region” in Europe, i.e. economic areas in which the production and/or heavy use of fossil fuels constitute an important source of economic prosperity and an important share of value added of the region. These are either regions with high intensity of heavy, industrial activities that produce a high level of direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or regions that are indirectly responsible for high levels of GHG emissions as they export fossil fuels.

    Approach / Key Methods: Re-Industrialise is borne out of a recognition that Europe’s overall shift to a net-zero-carbon 2050 will not affect its regions equally. Because some of its most carbon-intensive regions are economically dependent on the assets and processes that climate science tells us we need to stop, there is a risk of deep economic and social damage in some regions. This risk presents not just a social challenge for these regions, but a barrier toward the overall 2-degree climate target” (EIT Climate-KIC 2018, 2).

    Lead partner: Wuppertal Institute

    Funder: Climate-KIC

    Regional Focus: Silesia (Poland), North-Rhine Westphalia (Germany)

  • 2017 – 2022


    Focus / Key Research Questions: Τake the next step to the post coal era by reviving local economies and ensuring a Just Transition for all = strategy aiming at creating transformative pathways for local economies towards sustainable economic activities, as well as minimising hardships for workers and their communities in the associated industries, through active political and financial support.

    Approach / Key Methods: analysis of past transitions, continuous feedback from stakeholders, institutional policy analysis, legal aspects and quantitative modeling of the European electricity sector including employment effects

    Lead partner: TU Berlin

    Contributing partner: DIW, HU Berlin, Hertie School of Governance

    Funder: BMBF-SÖF

    Regional Focus: Germany, Europe, Colombia, South-Africa, China, India

  • 2017 – 2021

    Carbon and Coal Intensive Regions in Transition – Secretariat

    Focus / Key Research Questions: Governments, business and regions all around the world are moving beyond coal and carbon-intensive technologies. All Europeans should benefit from this transition, and no region should be left behind when moving away from fossil fuels. The Platform for Coal Regions in Transition, established in 2017, helps European countries, regions, communities and workers to the take on the challenge of the required economic diversification of the clean energy transition.

    Lead partner: ECORYS

    Contributing partner: Wuppertal Institute, ICLEI

    Funder: EC