Energy transition


The 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.


NWO-URSES: Smart Regimes for Smart Grids (SmaRds)

Goal: to create an integrated regime that addresses two behavioural uncertainties that impede smart grid developments: the legal design of emerging organisational settings in smart grid configurations and the policy design of smart grid implementation trajectories in municipalities.

PhD project. Project leader: Maarten Arentsen. PhD: Imke Lammers. Supervisors: Michiel Heldeweg (promotor), Maarten Arentsen, Thomas Hoppe (co-supervisors). Period: 2014-2018. Status: on-going.

Governance of local sustainability initiatives in the Frisian context

Can improved governance reap additional benefits for liveability and sustainability? Goal: Governments face the challenge how to manage the transition to sustainable economies and societies. This touches upon global trends on ‘grassroots initiatives’, like the ‘transition towns’ movement, which strives to decentralize production and consumption of basic goods – like energy - without causing negative externalities to the environment. In the Frisian context this means that next to a focus on the traditional environmental and energy topics in sustainability substantial attention will be paid to economic and development, and regional vitality. This proposal encompasses two lines of inquiry on the subject of local sustainability: (i) it seeks to learn from on-going local initiatives, and (ii) it seeks to learn from real-life experimentation with a ‘living lab’ based in a residential area. This approach covers the Frisian context by addressing both rural and urban contexts.

PhD project. Project leader: Thomas Hoppe. PhD: Beau Warbroek. Supervisors: Hans Bressers (promotor), Thomas Hoppe (daily supervisor). Period: 2014-2018. Status: on-going.

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.

BioEnergyTrain (BET)

The development and adoption of renewable and sustainable energy has become a top priority in Europe, and is Horizon 2020’s most prominent theme. Research into new energy methods required to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint is an urgent and critical need, and is reliant upon a flow of newly qualified persons in areas as diverse as renewable energy infrastructure management, new energy materials and methods, and smart buildings and transport. Bioenergy is a particularly important field in this respect as it is at the cross-roads of several important European policies, from the Strategic Energy Technology Plan Roadmap on Education and Training (SET-Plan) to the European Bioeconomy Strategy to European Food Safety and Nutrition Policy. European development in this prioritised field is stalled due to a lack of qualified personnel, a lack of cohesion and integration among stakeholders, and poor linkage between professional training and industry needs. To address these problems, BioEnergyTrain brings together fifteen partners from six EU countries to create new post-graduate level curricula in key bioenergy disciplines, and a network of tertiary education institutions, research centres, professional associations, and industry stakeholders encompassing the whole value chain of bioenergy from field/forest to integration into the sustainable energy systems of buildings, settlements and regions. The project will foster European cooperation to provide a highly skilled and innovative workforce across the whole bioenergy value chain, closely following the recommendations of the SET-Plan Education Roadmap.

CSTM is WP2 leader on the design and implementation of the new master curriculum Bioresource Value Chain Manager. This program starts at the University of Twente in September 2017. See also CSTM website “Education”.


The development and adoption of renewable and sustainable forms of energy has become a major priority for Europe and is an important theme in H2020. Research into new, energy-related technologies to reduce Europe’s reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels is a critical need, and requires more newly qualified people in areas such as renewable-energy infrastructure management, new energy materials and methods, as well as smart buildings and transport. Bio-energy is particularly relevant to the Work Programme, because it is at the crossroads of several key European policies – from the Strategic Energy Technology Plan Roadmap on Education and Training (SET-Plan) to the European Bio-economy Strategy for European Food Safety and Nutrition Policy. So far, technological development has concentrated on using crops and wood for fuel, energy and industrial products. These conventional bio-resources are, however, limited, and the use of non-conventional, currently unused or under-utilised bio-resources provides the best possibility for the growth of the bio-economy. However, European development in this priority field is failing to keep pace with demand due to a lack of qualified personnel, a lack of cohesion and integration among stakeholders, and poorly developed links between professional training and the real needs of industry. Based on seven work packages the Phoenix RISE project will address these issues by exploiting the complementary expertise of its partners and creating synergies between them through the targeted secondments of staff to advance research and innovation knowledge in bio-energy research. Phoenix is an international, interdisciplinary, cross-sectorial project, bringing together a total of 16 partners: 14 from the EU (5 companies and 9 academic organisations) and two Third-Country academic partners to enhance

its collective research excellence and create new, post-graduate-level research training in key disciplines that support the provision of bio-energy.

Societal acceptance of bio-energy

Bioenergy has potential in agricultural regions of the Netherlands, but is at the same time highly controversial. Part of the problem is the common pool resource character of bioresource utilisation. In the project CSTM develops new institutional arrangements for mitigating societal resistance to bio-energy based on the intellectual heritage of late Elinor Ostrom, winner of the Nobel prize for Economics in 2009. The core idea behind the approach is designing a jointly agreed “licence to operate” for the project developer with the local community, to avoid costly and time consuming legal procedures for the benefit of accelerating the local energy transition.

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.

PADUCO: Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation Program on Water (2013-2019)

Water resources in Palestine are under increasing stress due to a combination of factors, such as increasing demand, economic development, population growth, climate change, and pollution from untreated wastewater. The Palestinian water sector is therefore to adapt drastically in order to meet the challenges ahead. Against this background, PADUCO has been established in 2012 by five Palestinian and five Dutch universities with the objective of contributing to a self-sustaining, self-reliant Palestinian water sector in terms of institution building, resource management and improved service delivery. The two underlying principles that are adopted within PADUCO are transdisciplinarity that engages knowledge institutes, government, civil society and private organizations in applied research; and intersectorality that addresses the linkages of water with environment, agriculture, energy, land use and climate change. Within the first phase (2013-2016), the PADUCO team carried out eleven joint research projects, reviewed the possibility for establishing a PhD program on water, assessed existing education and training programs, and implemented six joint activities to improve the educational and training capacities. Upon the successful completion of the first phase, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved the second phase of PADUCO, which started in October 2016 and will continue until December 2019.

CSTM has been the national coordinator of PADUCO starting from its initiation, and involved in the following projects and activities within the first phase:

  • Assessment of water governance in the West Bank (Hans Bressers, Gül Özerol)
  • Renewable energy for wastewater treatment in Nablus (Joy Clancy, Gül Özerol)
  • Gender empowerment for the use of treated wastewater in agriculture (Joy Clancy, Gül Özerol)
  • International workshop on the gender dimension of water-energy-food nexus in the MENA region (Joy Clancy, Gül Özerol)
  • Effect of land-use/land-cover change on the future of rainfed agriculture in Jenin (Gül Özerol)
  • Governing the reuse of treated wastewater in irrigation: The case study of Jericho (MSc thesis co-supervised by Gül Özerol)
  • Impacts of using treated wastewater on rainfed agriculture in Jenin (MSc thesis co-supervised by Gül Özerol)
  • Socio-economic impacts of climate change on rainfed agriculture in Jenin (MSc thesis co-supervised by Gül Özerol)
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.

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

Commissioned Study

Mainstreaming Gender in Energy Sector Practice and Policy: Lessons from the ENERGIA International Network

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:

Projects archive

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.