Helmholtz Research School on Energy Scenarios

Impact of energy scenarios

Energy scenarios (and energy futures in general) play an important role in decision-making processes concerning the future of energy supply, energy demand and energy research. It is generally expected that decision-makers take the results of scientific energy scenarios into account, for example to identify critical points in future developments, or to determine ‘robust’ decision options. However, at the empirical level, comparatively little knowledge is available about how leading political and economic actors make use of scenarios, consider their impacts and consequences and introduce them into public debate. Therefore the overarching research question in this part of the Helmholtz research school is dedicated to the ‘fate’ and effects of energy scenarios in society. These results shall be used to suggest how to improve the current practice of communicating energy scenarios.

This topic covers a variety of subtopics which can be described by the following questions: Which impacts do energy scenarios have on energy politics and the private sector? What aspects, properties or attributes of energy scenarios are decisive in those decision-making processes? How do energy scenarios enter other subsystems of society such as the economy, the political system or cultural institutions such as education or popular entertainment (movies, books)? How are they absorbed by the potential users? How are scenarios based on scientific reasoning and language transformed by the very process of being communicated? How are energy scenarios perceived, communicated and used in public debate?