The transformation of energy systems in the direction of sustainable systems is on the agenda around the world. The concept of sustainable development is multidimensional since it includes ecological, economic, and social objectives. It is assessment based since reflection on social norms and values, preferences, possible future developments of technological and social systems, and factual knowledge is a necessary prerequisite for preparation of a further-reaching plan. The German approach to the transformation is called the Energiewende and is characterized by objectives for the technological-infrastructure side of the energy system. These include (1) a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases, (2) the integration of renewable energy, (3) the improvement of energy efficiency, and (4) the termination of the production of nuclear energy. At the same time, economic and social structures have to be adjusted, and approaches to implementation have to be developed. Social and political forces chafe at the technological-infrastructural priorities in the context of the demands of a highly industrialized economy in global competition. Yet they also seek solutions to issues of intratemporal and intertemporal justness, especially with regard to the burden and distribution of costs among social groups. In this context, the participation of wide portions of society in efforts to find solutions is becoming increasingly significant.
The Topic “Assessment of Energy Systems: Addressing Issues of Energy Efficiency and Energy Security” is positioned here and supports efforts to reach societal decisions through research on energy systems and sustainable development. It is focused at the level of energy systems with reference to nations and sectors, and it makes available scientific methods and suggestions for sociopolitical solutions on the basis of the results of interdisciplinary work by engineers, economists, social scientists, and political scientists. It pursues three objectives:
Operationalization of the concept of sustainable development for energy systems
Improvement of the methodological competence for assessing the sustainability of energy systems
Identification of the potential of different types of energy technology in terms of energy efficiency and energy security and of the development of strategies for implementation.