System Analysis for energy transition - A mapping of methodologies, co-operation and critical issues in energy systems studies at Chalmers
In April 2007, the Dept of Energy and Environment, in collaboration with other research groups from Architecture and Göteborg University, proposed a research project theme to be submitted by Chalmers to Vetenskapliga rådet (VR) for Linné Funding. The proposed research consisted in creation of a Centre for methodology development for analyses of transitions to sustainable energy systems. The basis for the proposal was the observation that many of the currently available scientific reports and system studies handle emerging issues regarding long-term societal changes in different and sometimes contradictory ways. The idea for the proposed centre was to systematically build up new knowledge not only regarding new methods, but also regarding relationships between methods, and degree of intervention in ongoing processes of change. The proposal was judged to be too applied by Chalmers Foundation, and thus not suitable for VR that primarily funds fundamental research, and was therefore rejected. Chalmers Foundation did however consider that the idea was worthy of consideration for future co-funding collaboration between Chalmers Foundation, VINNOVA and the Swedish Energy Agency.
In the ensuing discussions it became clear that there was not only an external need for a structure that could better collect and analyse results from ongoing research projects, but that there was also an internal need for increased understanding about ongoing research, i.e. what type of research, conducted by whom, how different types of system studies relate to each other, and how increased exchange of ideas, experience and methods could be consolidated and lead to increased production of knowledge. There is a general agreement that Chalmers is strong within the area of energy systems studies, but there is more uncertainty regarding how this strength can be defined and how it can be further developed. General systems analysis has been established as an academic discipline for over 50 years, and it is felt that individual researchers active within the field of energy systems analysis could gain substantially from a better understanding about how, when and why research results can or should contribute to an increasingly intense public debate in the energy area.