Pathways to sustainable energy

Solar roofs; Photo: Marco Antonio Lemus R.

Solar roofs; Photo: Marco Antonio Lemus R.

Energy plays a crucial role in many milestones of the international sustainability and climate policies adopted in the Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A comprehensive and integrated strategy for implementing the climate and energy targets has still not been sufficiently formulated, especially because there is no shared understanding of what pathways to a sustainable energy system could look like in many countries of the world.

With its Pathways to Sustainable Energy project, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) aims to stimulate political discourse to develop strategies to help structure a future energy system together with representatives of the energy sector and international non-governmental organisations. The project focuses on open dialogue between the actors of the 56 UNECE Member States and their very different needs and viewpoints. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) is providing support for a sub-project under the Capacity Development for Climate Policy in the Western Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia project which aims to help achieve this vision. The project is being carried out by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
‘The question we need to answer is what exactly has to be done to achieve the ambitious climate targets and what parameters play a role in different energy scenarios,’ explains Professor Christian Doetsch, Division Director Energy at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT), who coordinates the recently launched sub-project. The first step in answering this question is to model different scenarios of sustainable energy systems. ‘Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, we are responsible for looking at the areas of energy storage, power-to-X technologies¹, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and energy efficiency from a technological standpoint,’ continues Professor Doetsch. In this context, the project examines, for example, the contribution a technology can make to reducing carbon emissions – but also the costs associated with a specific technology and which efficiency levels play a role.

In the second project phase, an early warning system will be developed on the basis of the technologically relevant parameters. This system will continuously track progress along the road to achieving a sustainable energy system, but also expose critical issues to enable corrective measures to be initiated.

The goal of creating a sustainable energy system for the future can ultimately only be achieved through the conscientious use of natural resources. Equally important is a sustainable industrial sector based on a resilient energy infrastructure, says Professor Doetsch: ‘We hope that we can contribute to shaping the pathway to this goal to the best of our ability with our research expertise.’



¹Power-to-X describes the conversion of electricity as a primary energy to an energy source, heat, cold, product, power or raw material. It is a collective term for power-to-gas, power-to-liquid, power-to-fuel, power-to-chemicals, power-to-product and also power-to-heat.’ Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT)