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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES Research


theme complexity
theme complexity


Although complexity is an elusive concept, marked by multiple, sometimes contradictory, definitions and approaches, the theme of complexity is of paramount importance to understand energy processes in the light of sustainability goals. Complexity is the common feature, though yet to be fully understood, of both anthropic and ecological systems. And complexity is the paradigm to reconcile them and to bridge the several involved disciples, from physics to sociology, from economics to data science. Complexity is also a intriguing mystery of nature that grows with the energy density of systems.

Among the research lines develop are:

  1. theoretical and empirical investigation of the evolutionary nexus between energy and complexity;
  2. the dynamic and transformative relationship between efficiency (and power) and energy use;
  3. the use of the digital space as a source of data and information;
  4. approaches based on the concept of complexity, such as Agent Based Modelling, to model the uncertainty in the decision-making processes.

Theme contact persons

Projects related to this theme

ENP-Sha Repair

Sharing and Repairing in Everyday Urban Life

The Dutch government aims to achieve a fully circular economy by 2050. At the heart of this vision are sharing and repairing practices. We as users and consumers are all expected to take up a range of sharing and repairing activities in our dailylives as a means to bring about essential reductions in resource consumption and environmental impact. Yet, despite their signifance, these practices remain on the fringes of Dutch society. Trust and participation remain low and share and repair intiaitives face challenges in engaging diverse citizens and scaling up these practices across society. This is complicated by the fact that little is known about the true environmental and economic impacts of taking up sharing and repairing in society, especially in relation to possible unintended consequences, such as rebound effects. [link to project website]



With the current situation of severe traffic congestion and emissions in most cities globally, achieving an efficient and climate-neutral urban transport system remains one of the key challenges for cities. The recent developments and widespread availability of technology (such as internet and mobile phones), new urban concepts such as the 15-minutes city, and changes in societal trends, particularly working habits (e.g., telework and overtime working) further complicate the problem, increasing uncertainty and providing new challenges to urban mobility. Understanding the impacts of these new developments on citizens’ job-home location choices and associated travel patterns, and providing new innovative solutions to the urban traffic system are critical to an efficient, low-emission and sustainable urban environment.



COMETS (Collective Action Models for the Energy Transition and Social Innovation) is filling the knowledge gaps around citizen engagement in the energy transition to renewable sources by investigating and quantifying the aggregate contribution of Collective Action Initiatives (CAIs) in the energy sector at both national and European levels. [link to project website]


Last modified:06 May 2024 2.23 p.m.