International undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students
The oil crises of the 1970s provoked debate about the finite limits of energy resources and triggered increases in energy efficiency and innovations in the production of alternative fuels.
Yet despite these developments, the following decades saw energy consumption increase dramatically, first in the global North and then in the South. Electric power is still scarce and unreliable in many developing countries such as India, Indonesia, and most African states.
If these countries increase their use of fossil fuels to meet the rising energy demands of their growing populations, while established major emitters fail to reduce their emissions dramatically, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will lead to unmanageable global warming.
Since 1992, the international community has negotiated successive agreements that now aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero levels in the second part of this century.
These agreements assume an intensifying effort to replace fossil fuels by renewable energy sources and significant improvements in the energy efficiency of industries, transport, and cities. However, the need for rapid emission reductions goes well beyond what a transition to non-carbon based fuels can provide – raising questions about geoengineering and other potential technologies and their impacts.
The need for rapid emissions cuts, alongside growing global demand for (renewable) energy, raise critical questions about the technological potential and socioeconomic and political implications of various technologies and approaches.
During the first week of the Summer School, we will look at technical, social and political issues raised by renewable energy (solar, wind, hydropower and bioenergy). Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other modelling frameworks will also help us tackle some of these questions.
Political decisions at all levels of governance contribute to managing – or slowing – how this growing demand for renewable energy is met. The political context of climate change, climate justice and the current energy transition, has been strongly influenced by international climate negotiations, from Kyoto to Copenhagen and now Paris. Meanwhile, local demand for renewable energy is generated by communities discussing energy self-sufficiency and potentials of increased regional economic value added from renewable energies – for instance, in the context of the German "Energiewende" (energy transition). Many of these changes remain highly contested at all levels, from the international to the local.
The second week of the Summer School will focus on technical aspects of one of the greatest challenges of our time, the secure and affordable supply of environmentally friendly energy.
Around the world, scientists at universities and research institutes as well as in the industrial sector work on novel energy conversion and storage systems. As future energy systems will be diverse, a broad knowledge of different conversion and storage applications is needed. Therefore, we will cover fundamental knowledge, specific case studies as well as possible solutions for novel energy systems from an engineering point of view. The development of flexible decentralised smart energy systems and the hybridisation of renewable energy systems are topics that will be presented during this week. They are widely discussed in the energy strategic planning on European and international level in order to end up with efficient systems with a minimum environmental impact and CO2 footprint.