Energy transition

Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and clean energyThe transition to innovative sustainable energy solutions is technology and society driven. The environmental impact and the economy of current energy sources are seen as key challenges for human progress. Issues like shale gas exploration, geo-political tensions surrounding oil in polar areas, or money flowing towards political instable regimes all point to the need for change.
Changing the energy system is not restricted to developing and replacing technology. It is rather depend on a combination of using and replacing multiple energy technologies, social and institutional rules, entrepreneurship and public policies. A new energy system matches current economic routines and habits in society poorly. Behavioral, organizational or governance drivers for change are critical for spurring transitional change in energy systems. Changing economic (and political) actors’ perspectives, developing new organizational models and designing innovative governance models are considered necessary for change. We seek to explore, understand and design innovative design and implementation models, innovative business cases that work, better policies, and better public debates about energy transition.
CSTM is currently involved in multiple research projects that contribute to new ideas on governance models to spur smart and sustainable energy transition. This manifests in research projects on Smart Grids, Bioenergy, Smart Regions and Cities, Energy and Regulations, Energy and Gender, and Climate Change Mitigation Policy. In its research activities CSTM actively collaborates with international, national and regional partners from both the public and private sectors.

Current projects

  • SERENE: Sustainable and integrated energy systems in local communities

    The SERENE project aims to develop and demonstrate sustainable, integrated, cost-effective and customer centric solutions for sustainable energy in local communities. The idea is to integrate different energy system carriers and new renewable generation units in local communities, based on their social and technical status today, to meet their energy needs in the coming years. The SERENE project will establish demonstrators in local villages in three European countries – Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland. The experiences from the demonstration sites will be analysed and evaluated for replicability within Europe and worldwide. Technical benchmark models and solutions will be set up together with their business models, and it is evaluated how different legal aspects form the involved countries will affect the possibility for replication. Further, the needed user involvement and their interest to join are evaluated seen from both geographic, social, environmental and economic conditions and characteristics.

    In particular, researchers at CSTM will investigate socio-economic, governance and regulatory conditions and obstacles for local energy system innovations. Moreover, they will develop criteria for attractive and viable business models for citizen-centered local integrated energy systems and analyze the  social acceptability of such systems for citizens. Eventually, they will be involved in establishing the impacts of these technical and social innovations in local energy systems and creating benchmark models that can be replicated in many local regions, and are acceptable for local citizens

    For updates, please follow the project on LinkedIn: SERENE H2020 project: Overview | LinkedIn.

    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 957682. It runs from 2021 to 2025.

    Involved partners next to CSTM:

    Dutch partners:  Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (UT), Saxion University of Applied sciences, the Aardehuizen community in Olst and technology provider Loqio.

    European partners: Aalborg University (AAU), Skanderborg Kommune (SKE), AURA A/S (AURA), Neogrid Technologies Aps (NEOGRID), Suntherm Aps (SUN), Bjerregaard Consulting Aps (BJE), Instytut Maszyn Przeplyywowych Im Roberta Szewalskiego Polskiej Akademii Nauk IMP PAN (IMP), Gmina Przywidz (GMINA), Energa Operator SA (EOR), Pawel Zdzislaw Grabowski (STAY).


  • SUSTENANCE: Sustainable energy system for achieving novel carbon neutral energy communities

    The SUSTENANCE project aims to set up sustainable energy systems for achieving novel carbon neutral energy communities. The project focuses on the development of smart technological concepts ensuring a green transition of the energy systems with higher share of local renewable energy and more efficient integrated energy solutions. The projects includes demonstration sites in four countries: Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland and India. The project will show how same technical concepts such as coupling of different energy vectors, storage solutions, demand response, intelligent control schemes and digitalization can be applied to all demonstration cases despite the huge differences in the local conditions and regulations. Road maps will be set up based on these technical solutions together with guidelines for methods for user engagement and ensuring cooperation among the users in relevant cases leading to cooperatives. Finally, business cases will be developed for the different demonstration sites seen from different perspectives, while taking into account the local conditions.

    In particular, researchers at CSTM will investigate socio-economic, governance and regulatory factors for optimizing the organizational configuration of more autarkic local integrated energy systems. Moreover, they will develop criteria for attractive and viable business models and strengthened local economies in more autarkic local integrated energy systems; and analyse the social acceptability of such local energy projects for citizens. Finally, they will be involved in establishing the impacts of technical and social innovations in such autarkic local energy systems and in designing benchmark models as standards of excellence and achievement.

    For updates, please follow the project on LinkedIn: SUSTENANCE H2020 project: Overview | LinkedIn.

    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101022587. Additionally, it is funded by DST, Government of India. The projects runs from 2021 to 2025.

    Involved partners next to CSTM:

    Dutch partners: Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (UT), Saxion University of Applied sciences, the Aardehuizen community in Olst and technology provider Loqio.

    International partners: Aalborg University (AAU), Skanderborg Kommune (SKM), Aura Energi (AER), Neogrid (NGD), Suntherm (SNT), Bjerregaard Consultants (BJC), The Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IMP), Energa-Operator SA (EOR), Stay-ON Energy Management (SON), KEZO Foundation at Polish Academy of Science Research Centre (KEZ), Własnościowa Spóldzielnia Mieszkaniowa im. Adama Mickiewicza w Sopocie (WSM), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc), Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IITKGP), Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi (IITBHU), National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (NITT), National Institute of Technology, Silchar (NITS), Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Allahabad (MMNIT), Innovation Laboratory Energy, Mumbai (ILABE), Gram Oorja, Mumbai (GOR) and Urjalinks (URJA).


  • COMPLEX: Knowledge based climate mitigation systems for a low carbon economy realizing regional climate policy

    Current models of climate change and carbon emission assume the immediate past is a reasonable guide to the future. They struggle to represent the complex causal structures and time-asymmetries of many socio-natural systems. COMPLEX will integrate the quasi-classic models of meso-scale processes with our best understanding of fine-grained space-time patterns and the system-flips that are likely to occur in the long interval between now and 2050. It is believed the sub-national region is the key point of entry for studying climate change and its cause-effect interrelations. It is small enough to be sensitive to local factors, large enough to interact with supra-national agencies and stable enough to be historically and culturally distinctive. In addition to undertaking case studies in Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain and Italy, we will develop a suite of modelling tools and decision-support systems to inform national and supra-national policy and support communities across Europe working to make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

  • Breaking silos – can the EU’s mission approach for climate-neutral cities accelerate energy transitions? (2023-2025)

    Innovative ideas and working methods are needed to speed up sustainable energy transitions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Previous studies have shown the importance of breaking silos between institutions to accelerate this transition. This project investigates how an innovative governance approach - the EU's mission for climate-neutral cities - can increase the pace of energy transitions. For this purpose, CSTM has teamed up with The Swedish Institute of International Affairs and Lund University to study two cities that have been selected to participate in the EU’s mission approach: Stockholm and Amsterdam.

    The overarching research question of the project is: To what extent and how can the mission approach contribute to an acceleration of energy transitions in cities? Specifically, in the context of the European Cities Mission it will (1) map out the mission approach, (2) analyse how it works in practice, and (3) evaluate its effects in Stockholm and Amsterdam. In particular, it will investigate if and how the mission approach can break up silos horizontally (for instance within a city administration and public/private actors domestically) and vertically (for instance within transnational networks and international institutions) and how it can impact energy transitions both in terms of reducing emissions but also from the perspective of social justice.

    The project will contribute to research, policy, and practice with an understanding of how the mission approach can break up silos and provide approaches and tools to accelerate sustainable energy transitions towards net-zero emissions. 

    Research team:

    • Lisa Sanderink, CSTM
    • César Casiano Flores, CSTM
    • Naghmeh Nasiritousi, The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (project leader)
    • Alexandra Buylova, The Swedish Institute of International Affairs
    • Björn Wickenberg, Lund University
    • Kes Mccormick, Lund University


  • Optimizing renewable energy development for a sustainable rural electrification

    This PhD project, in collaboration with the university of UNPAD, Bandung, Indonesia, analyses the effectivity of rural electrification programs in Indonesia with a special focus on the Bogor Regency in West Java. In the electrification program, remote areas get access to electricity by means of stand-alone technology (hydro, PV or bio). The PhD project analyses the conditions for success and failure of the stand-alone projects from a sustainability and institutional perspective.

  • Gender and Energy Research Programme

    The Gender and Energy Research Programme is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and established and led by the ENERGIA the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy to provide the evidence base for improving energy investment effectiveness by understanding and better addressing women’s specific needs for modern energy services through empirical research. The evidence aims to inform global energy initiatives including SE4All, the international initiative, led by the United Nations, to end energy poverty by scaling up energy access to achieve universal energy access to sustainable, modern energy services by 2030.

    The Gender and Energy Research Programme is one of the three components of the DFID Sustainable Energy, Access and Gender (SEAG) programme. The other two components of SEAG are: expansion of renewable energy resources mapping programme (by the World Bank’s ESMAP) and responding to emerging SE4All knowledge priorities as this initiative expands.

    Within the research programme, empirical evidence on the links between gender, energy and poverty, will be gathered and analysed, and translated into guidance and recommendations for energy policy and practice by governments, the private sector and the NGO /CSO community. The programme entails research, evidence gathering and dissemination, and raising public awareness on the importance of energy access for women and girls. The starting point for the research programme are five priority themes for research on the gender dimensions of priority areas in the energy sector: electrification through grid and decentralised systems; productive uses of energy; the political economy of energy sector dynamics; energy sector reform; and the role of the private sector in scaling up energy access. Further, commissioned research will address key gaps in evidence.

    Prof. dr. Joy Clancy is the Principal Investigator of the Gender and Energy Research Programme

    The main programme website can be reached here.

  • Productive Uses of Energy in the Informal Food Sector: Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa

    Energy for productive uses was identified as one of five key research areas in the DFID funded ENERGIA Gender and Energy Research programme. As a result of a successful proposal for this theme, CSTM is leading a consortium with partners conducting research in three African countries. This four-year project started in 2015 and will conclude at the end of 2018.

    In addition to the basic energy needs of cooking and heating for domestic purposes, energy is required for a range of income generating and productive uses. This research focuses on male and female owned micro enterprises in the Informal Food Sector. A reason for choosing to focus on this sector is to provide a gender focus as this is a sector where many women make their livelihoods in urban areas in the global south.

    The primary goal of the project is to influence energy policy making and implementation in the focus countries. The research also aims to explore from a gender perspective the changes that may be brought by access and use of Modern Energy Services (MESs) within male and female owned micro enterprises in the Informal Food Sector. It also aims to track the link between households and enterprise energy use and how this impacts on the gender relations as well as its effects on women’s empowerment.

    A video produced to show the use of different energy sources by the street food sector and the importance of this sector in income generation. Download video here

    Dr. Nthabi Mohlakoana is the researcher and project coordinator of the Productive Uses of Energy project and Prof. dr. Hans Bressers is the Project Leader.

    The project website can be reached here

  • The Institutional Sources of Energy Transitions: From the Oil Crises to Climate Policy

    Why are some governments more effective in promoting economic change? We develop a theory of the institutional sources of economic transformation. Domestic institutions condition the ability of policymakers to impose costs on consumers and producers. We argue that institutions can enable transformation through two central mechanisms: insulation and compensation. The institutional sources of transformation vary across policy types—whether policies impose costs primarily on consumers (demand-side policies) or on producers (supply-side policies). Proportional electoral rules and strong welfare states facilitate demand-side policies, whereas autonomous bureaucracies and corporatist interest intermediation facilitate supply-side policies. We test our theory by leveraging the 1973 oil crisis, an exogenous shock that compelled policymakers to simultaneously pursue transformational change across OECD countries. Panel analysis, case studies, and discourse network analysis support our hypotheses. The findings offer important lessons for contemporary climate change policy and low-carbon transitions.

    More information

    The Comparative Politics of Climate Change Policy
    Presentation (video): Institutional Sources of Economic Transformation Energy Policy from the Oil Crises to Climate Change


  • DEI+ “Buurtbatterij in de weverij” (Neighbourhood-level energy storage) (2020-2022)

    System level innovation and integration is required to ensure a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy in the future. By doing so, investments in the electricity grid can be avoided. The aim of this project is to develop a system, consisting of storage (electricity and heat), electric heat pumps and PVT panels, combined with a novel energy management system to increase the flexibility within the energy system. This system will be tested in a pilot project with newly built houses in the former “weverij” in Almelo. Within this project, some devices are part of the household electricity circuit (e.g. the heat pump and heat storage), whereas other assets are shared within the community (e.g. the battery). Such a hybrid setup results in new possibilities from a technical perspective, new business cases, but also challenges from a governance viewpoint.

    CSTM will be involved in this project from the social perspective: the system must be accepted by the people that will live in these houses, but simultaneously help users in changing their energy behaviour to achieve goals of the energy transition and decrease load on the energy system. Lastly, the possible economic models, business roles and contractual frameworks need to be developed to make such a concept a success. To this end, possibilities for governance of such a hybrid system, within the novel regulatory frameworks, are investigated. The project thereby aligns with the goals and possibilities that the EU’s Clean Energy Package is said to enable.

    This project has received funding from the Dutch DEI+ programme and runs from 2020 to 2022.

    Involved partners next to CSTM: Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (UT), Ter Steege Bouw (building company), Loohuis installatiegroep (installation of equipment), Coteq (local electricity grid operator), Contour (system integrator), and SolarFreezer (seasonal storage for heating systems).

  • Low-impact utility engineering for resident-led housing clusters

    Two significant system changes occuring in contemporary Europe: on the one hand, the transition towards energy systems based on renewable decentralised sources; on the other hand, the emerging responses to the withdrawal of the welfare-state, particularly urban grass-root initiatives for collaborative self-organisation. This ‘sharing and caring economy’ occurs for example in food-production, gardening, insurance, REScoops and local energy initiatives, co-working spaces and housing.

    System changes form an opportunity to rethink conventions and develop innovations for the operational elements of the system concerned. For the purpose, the research sets out to rethink utility engineering, beyond existing approaches that address either technical optimisation of distribution and supply, or the behaviour of individual end-users. With the help of theory of the commons, the research creates a new theoretical framing for utility engineering, exploring the intermediate level between general grid and individual dwelling. The research builds on my PhD research, which brought to light new empirical evidence in self-organised housing clusters organised as ‘commons’ with varied levels of residents’ organisation. The utility engineering in such clusters point the way to low-impact solutions in the general housing stock. On this basis, the proposed research models a prototype for low-impact domestic energy and water delivery in housing. The design process is located in real-time environments (living labs), such as resident-led housing projects, natural gas free neighbourhood programmes and local resident-run REScoops.

    More information

    Website pilot project 'ecovillage hannover':
    Videos: Webinar 'Co-housing: An eco-feminist model for architecture'

    Key publications

    Tummers, L. (2021). Housing communities as low-carbon energy pioneers. Experiences from the Netherlands. In Coenen, F. H. J. M. , & Hoppe, T (Eds.), Renewable Energy Communities and the Low Carbon Energy Transition in Europe (pp. 227-255)Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

    Tummers, L., & MacGregor, S. (2019). Beyond wishful thinking: a FPE perspective on commoning, care, and the promise of co-housing. International Journal of the Commons, 13(1), 62–83.

    Palmer, J., & Tummers, L. (2019). Collaborative Housing: Resident and Professional Roles. Built Environment, 45(3), 277–279.


Selection of past projects

  • Research project on policy model applied by the municipality of Lochem

    Goals: to create insights into the design and implementation of an innovative local policy model – aimed at empowering civil society - as implemented by the Dutch municipality of Lochem. Project leader: Thomas Hoppe. Period: 2013-2014. Status: finalized.

  • Route ‘14 Smart grids

    Goal: To spur multi- and cross disciplinary research at the University of Twente on the topic of Smart Grids.

    Collaboration between CTIT and IGS. Project leader: Maarten Arentsen. Researchers: Sandra Bellekom and Thomas Hoppe. Period: 2012-2013. Status: finalized.

  • Mainstreaming Gender in Energy Sector Practice and Policy: Lessons from the ENERGIA International Network, 2015-2016

    As part of the Gender and Energy Research Programme the ENERGIA International Secretariat (IS) commissioned research by a small team with the objective of bringing together lessons learned from gender approaches by ENERGIA and other organisations (in particular the World Bank’s Africa Renewable Energy and Access Program (AFREA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)). The ultimate aim is to increase ENERGIA’s effectiveness, enhance ENERGIA’s role in setting the stage for other organisations and to inform policy development and practice about successful gender mainstreaming approaches. The network has for more than twenty years been building a substantial body of experience with approaches to gender mainstreaming in the energy sector so is in a key position to inform others including other researchers in the research programme.

    In this context, the ENERGIA IS commissioned Joy Clancy, together with Dr Nthabi Mohlakoana (from CSTM), Yacine Diagne Gueye (Senegal), Lydia Muchiri (Kenya) and Indira Shakya (Nepal) to review the lessons learnt from gender mainstreaming in energy programmes and projects and in energy policies and to make recommendations to improve the effectiveness where necessary.

    The work started in 2015 and was completed in 2016. Only activities between 2005 and 2011 were reviewed, which covers Phases 3 and 4 of ENERGIA’s programme of activities during which there was an evolution in terms of focus and approaches. In Phase 3 ENERGIA’s methodology for gender audits was developed. The year 2011 marked the end of ENERGIA’s Phase 4 programme which concentrated on mainstreaming gender in energy projects. It was considered that a period of three years should allow sufficient time for outcomes and impacts to have realised and be identified as well as for reflection by those interviewed as key informants to be meaningful.

    The study concluded that there is a body of evidence to show that gender mainstreaming as conducted by ENERGIA in Phases 3 and 4 has generated benefits for a range of stakeholders from the grassroots through organisations active in the energy sector (government, utilities and NGOs) to the policy level. ENERGIA’s approaches to gender mainstreaming in programmes and projects have been tested in a variety of contexts with a range of energy technologies and can be considered to work well if measured by the response of informants interviewed. When assessing experiences with mainstreaming gender in energy policy the study focused on gender audits as a tool to identify and analyse the factors that hinder efforts to make energy policy gender aware. The evidence shows that in the main gender audits work – to a point and not always in the ways that had been initially envisaged.

    A copy of the full report, together with the executive summary can be found at: