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About us University College Groningen Education Project-Based Learning Collection of Projects

Energy Transitions

Project supervisor(s): Wander Jager, Ferdinand Lewis

The project will challenge team members to understand a complex social problem and apply methods and skills to developing and making recommendations for change.

It is now widely recognized that the nature of energy production and consumption must change in order to create sustainable environments, economies, and communities. However, national energy policy, large-scale energy production practices, and consumer behavior are difficult to change. Tremendous frustration exists around the question of how to transition from current practices to sustainable energy policies, production, and consumption. Tools are required that can help institutions, firms, and individuals navigate the complex interactions required of governments, firms, and individuals in making a successful energy transition.

Over the course of blocks 2-4, team members will learn to realistically model the complex stakes and interactions involved in the transition from unsustainable to sustainable energy practices, involving governments, the energy industry, and consumers. Team members will also develop an interactive “energy transition game” that represents a rigorous and realistic understanding of the threats, costs and opportunities faced by each sector of society, and their complex interactions. This interactive game will illustrate possible outcomes and costs of various decisions, and the overwhelming cost of making no choice at all.

The game puts a human face on energy transition for stakeholders, as well modeling interactions between energy firms and governments. Thus, game development will not only require instruction in gaming technology, but also in methods for understanding the costs of making the transition to sustainability.  Team members will be given instruction in using existing software to model artificial populations, while also undertaking an in-depth investigation into the various sectors and actors––governments, firms, consumers––involved in energy transition. Team members will come to understand how technological developments, resource scarcities, and partisan politics interplay with policy, the marketplace, and consumer preference.

The methods that will be used will include:

  • Policy analysis
  • Energy systems modeling
  • Stakeholder- and market-segment analysis
  • Primary research interviewing representatives from government, business, and the community about the threats, costs, and opportunities in energy transition
  • Primary research gathering data on energy production and consumption
  • Modeling sustainable energy production and consumption
  • Additional methods will be called into play as needed
Last modified:10 October 2019 4.36 p.m.