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Energy Systems in Transition

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ENSYSTRA (Energy Systems in Transition)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-09-30

By signing the Paris Agreement, the global society, including the EU and its member states, have agreed upon “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels”. To meet the objectives stated in the Paris Agreement, a worldwide energy transition is necessary, not only in terms of how energy is supplied, but also in terms of how energy is transformed and used; an energy system transformation. The far-reaching implications of the energy system transition for technologies, infrastructure, market organisations, consumer behaviour and governance are only partially understood. This challenges the scientific community to develop the interdisciplinary knowledge to better understand the possibilities and impacts of energy system changes, linking analyses of energy technologies, infrastructure and systems with policy approaches, actor behaviour and business models. The Energy Systems in Transition (ENSYSTRA) training network of academic and secondment partners (companies and (semi-)government bodies) is a direct response to this challenge.
The ENSYSTRA network put together a study of key energy technologies and greenhouse gas mitigation options in the North Sea region in terms of (techno-economic and sustainable) potentials, system integration modelling, and spatial aspects at different spatial scales. It includes political and social drivers, as well as market and energy infrastructure issues. The network combines collaboration between different disciplines, modelling arenas, and involves relevant energy industries and regional authorities. This is important for the North Sea region, which constitutes the main focus area of this programme, as well as for other comparable regions, both in Europe and the rest of the world.
The overall objectives of ENSYSTRA are to:
-develop long term collaborations in the field of (energy) systems analysis between the project partners
-advance methodological and modelling capabilities in the field of energy system analysis
-improve linkages between academic disciplines, industrial sectors and government bodies relevant to supporting the energy transition process of the North Sea region
-have wider impact on relevant scientific arenas coming together in energy system integration and transition management
-contribute to accessible energy science based on open -source, -data, -access and – knowledge
-train 15 energy professionals (ESRs) with a strong interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral perspective on energy transition, with strong insight in the linkages between different science fields and methods, and skilled in the practice of open science.
-to provide the 15 ESRs with key skills and competences to apply interdisciplinary analysis and state- of-the-art science in an industrial, governmental and applied knowledge institutes setting.
During the first two years of the project, the ENSYSTRA network has been firmly established. The organizational structures have been set, and in the first half of 2018, 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) started working on their individual research projects. By the end of the project this has resulted in among others:
-over 30 publications for general audience & industry
-38 open-access academic article contributions submitted, of which 22 have already been published
-7 open-access academic article under development, to be submitted late 2021 early 2022
-24 conference papers
-policy strategy framework
-quantified roadmaps towards 2050
-best practise guidelines for model collaboration
-energy course portfolio for graduate students
-6 policy briefs
-6 organized policy meetings
-1 final conference
-project website
Next to publishable outcomes, also several models have been developed, and research data is collected. This data contains both qualitative and quantitative data, and can provide insight in the performance of energy systems, and the actors that are active in these systems.
The ESRs also received training from their hosting universities and from the dedicated ENSYSTRA training programme. This programme consists of 4 workshops and 3 summer schools, which provided a mix between learning transferable skills, interactions with industry and governmental actors, making collaborative research efforts, interdisciplinary research propositions and learning how to translate research into policy advise.
The ESRs conducted over 30 ‘secondment periods’ with the ENSYSTRA secondment partners, a group of industry partners, NGOs, governments and other knowledge institutes. During these periods, the ESRs have been working ‘in-house’ with the secondment partners, learning valuable new perspectives to further develop their research. More of these periods are still planned for 2021/2022.
The research in ENSYSTRA corresponds and relates to modern-day needs in the energy transition. It does so by providing a wide range of scientific results and conclusions, which have also been translated into various dissemination products targeted at both industry, policy and societal actors. The results are among others focussing on the interconnection between different energy systems, political processes that structure and guide the energy transition, the role of industry and people and their behaviour in the energy transition, planning in the North Sea area, and how to use different and alternative types of energy for existing energy demand, both in small-scale and large-scale applications. Next to pushing the boundaries in state of the art knowledge, the results all show the importance and value of interdisciplinary research, and the linking of various perspectives.
ENSYSTRA also provides methods and best practises for this, and resulted in integrated and integrable models, which can be used in both academic and more applied settings. The models have been developed on the basis of state of the art knowledge, discussions between the various ESRs in the project, and with the input of the industrial partners in the project. Consequently, different disciplines and perspectives could be included and integrated.
The results of ENSYSTRA can contribute to better planning in the North Sea region. By including various perspectives, new pathways can be discovered and predictions and calculations of potential pathways can be improved. Also, the results can help in improving stakeholder engagement. This engagement is necessary to ensure the necessary knowledge, support, and capital needed for the energy transition and realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement. Not just in the North Sea region, but also beyond, as most of the research and tools developed in the ENSYSTRA project can be easily modified and reproduced for other regions.
One of the most valuable results of the project is the training of the 15 ESRs. Not only has the training resulted in trained energy professionals, it also resulted in the participating parties to develop a network in which the ESRs could be trained. Not only the academic partners, also more than 20 secondment partners, and other involved parties, coming from industry, policy, and society contributed to this network. ENSYSTRA shows that such collaborations work and can lead to results.