Graduate School

for Sustainable Energy Systems in Neighbourhoods

2nd Phase NEQ​

Contents and objectives of the Graduate School for Sustainable Energy Systems in Neighbourhoods

The Research College NRW “Sustainable Energy Systems in Neighbourhoods” aims to develop technical, economic and social control models to increase energy efficiency in neighbourhoods. With its broad interdisciplinary composition and embedding in practice (transdisciplinary), the Research College thus makes an important contribution to developing integrated concepts and promoting the necessary understanding between disciplines as well as between future scientists with practitioners from different disciplines. Concrete possibilities for action and options are to support the acting parties, first and foremost municipal utilities, municipalities, politics and citizens, in advancing the energy transition in the neighbourhood.

In doing so, the research college draws on the scientific findings and experiences of the first phase of the research college “Energy Efficiency in the Neighbourhood”, which, among other things, identified barriers to the practical implementation of energy efficiency measures. The focus of the second funding phase is on transformation strategies and thus the dimensions of implementation. With a view to the people and their motivations, actor-related and technical models as well as business and control models for the implementation of the energy transition in the neighbourhood are to be developed.

The complex topic of energy efficiency is linked to the challenges of climate change, demographic development, transformation of the energy supply and the heat and mobility transition. In this context, it is not sufficient to consider the electricity sector, as the heating sector and mobility also have great potential for reducing CO2 emissions. For these three important sectors on the one hand and for the consideration of the acting and consuming actors on the other hand, the neighbourhood is also a suitable spatial reference value in the 2nd Research College. The spatial focus of the research work is on neighbourhoods in the Ruhr area and the Rhenish Revier. In addition to the examination of existing neighbourhoods, the future-oriented construction of new neighbourhoods (including land recycling, collective uses, new mobility concepts) will also be considered.

Since January 2019 until the end of 2022, 11 doctoral candidates are simultaneously working on their doctorates in the NEQ research college at six different universities and institutes in NRW. Participants are the Technical University of Dortmund, the Ruhr University of Bochum, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Bochum University of Applied Sciences and the Wuppertal Institute. It is coordinated by the Institute of Urban Planning and European Urban Studies under the direction of Prof. Christa Reicher.

In addition to the monitoring of the research by a scientific advisory board, the main focus is on interdisciplinary exchange and transdisciplinary cooperation with actors from the field. For this exchange, a top-class practice advisory board has been formed, which also continuously accompanies the doctoral students. The research takes place in four action-oriented thematic clusters, which are examined from different disciplines and the results of which are discussed in an interdisciplinary manner, always with the neighbourhood as a frame of reference. The thematic clusters are:

  • Integrated conversion of energy infrastructures
  • Activating actors/users/owners
  • Establishing new ways of acting for sustainability at neighbourhood level
  • Shaping the framework conditions for implementation

Despite the Corona pandemic and its aftermath, which made the original concept of intensive exchange on site and at expert conferences impossible, new, mainly digital, ways were found to exchange with each other. The Forschungskolleg NEQ itself organised a series of public, digital evening events “NEQ-talks”, which presented projects from the field and promoted discourse with actors from the field.

The exchange of knowledge and experience with international cooperation partners is strengthened by excursions to Vienna and Copenhagen as well as digital exchange formats.

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