Research Unit

InternationalEnergy Transitions

The International Energy Transitions Research Unit develops solution pathways for sustainable energy systems and industrial transformation in developing regions, especially in the MENA region, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

How can a meaningful transformation towards a just and sustainable energy future succeed? Who are the important actors, which sectors are central to the transition phases and what are the key fields for change in different regions of the world?
These questions are at the heart of the work of the International Energy Transitions Research Unit. The energy-related sustainable development goal, "access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all" contained in SDG7, combined with the Paris Climate Change Agreement climate goals, form the orientation framework of the Research Unit. The central focus of the research is on strengthening the understanding of the socio-economic and technical interactions that lead to meaningful transformation to a sustainable energy future.

The researchers at the International Energy Transitions Research Unit see civil society and actors on the ground as the driving force behind this transformation, which focuses not only on energy but on positive, equitable and sustainable development as a whole. In line with the Wuppertal Institute’s transformative research approach, the scientists create strategies in direct collaboration with local actors (a bottom-up approach). On the basis of scientific analyses, the aim is to develop new visions, future scenarios, goals and options for joint action in the region, the state or the municipality.

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Thematic focus

The International Energy Transitions Research Unit focuses on two themes.

  • It identifies the success factors for the implementation of sustainable energy systems in emerging and developing countries.
  • It develops climate protection and sustainability strategies for individual countries and sectors and outlines their implementation possibilities.

For the first thematic pillar, the researchers investigate how different energy technologies can be interlinked and how the resulting synergy potentials can be exploited by implementing initiatives at local level. To achieve this, the researchers work closely with local energy actors and networks. This thematic pillar is closely linked to the sustainability objective of creating access to a modern energy supply for all (SDG7) and is based on experience gained from the "WISIONS of Sustainability" research project, which has been running for more than 15 years. The WISIONS initiative, launched by the Wuppertal Institute with the support of a Swiss foundation, has a geographical focus on sustainable energy solutions for rural regions in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The second thematic pillar of the International Energy Transitions research unit works towards making an active contribution to significantly increasing the share of renewable energy technologies and strengthening energy efficiency. By doing so, it also reflects the UN sustainability goals. The geographical focus is twofold: on regions with high potential for emissions reduction and with high social pressure to change; and on regions with high potential for exploiting renewable energies, including the production of raw materials based on renewable energies (synthetic gases and fuels). This is particularly relevant for countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as well as certain individual countries in East Asia. The International Energy Transitions Research Unit draws on many years of cooperation and project experience in these areas.


Here you can find projects of the Research Unit: