© Christian Fürthner

How do we succeed in the energy transition? Three basic studies are looking for clues! The energy transition towards 100% renewable and at least CO2-neutral energy is a social duty, because fossil fuels lead to the reinforcement of the climate crisis as well as environmental and health damages.

The funding priority Energy Transition 2050, launched by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund (Klima- und Energiefonds), focuses in particular on “transition processes and social innovations” in the energy transition. The aim is to gain a deeper understanding of these two terms, to analyze the overall systemic-socio-economic context, and to lay the foundations for change and better governance. The goal is to build and provide skills and capacity for decarbonisation in the spirit of the great transformation. The common thread of the three out-of-competition baseline studies is that they span the research field of transition or social innovation through differently oriented perspectives: top-down, bottom-up and spatially related.

  1. transAT (Top-down instruments for the energy transition)
  2. EBU study (Bottom up – socially innovative approaches and new actors)
  3. SINNergyTRANS (Social Innovations for Energy Transition)

transAT – Top-down instruments for the energy transition 2050 in Austria

One of the three funded studies “transAT – Top-down Instruments for the Energy Transition 2050 in Austria” examines in the period from May 2018 to September 2019 how and which top-down instruments for the transition of the entire energy system in Austria – in the sense of a 100% decarbonisation – can contribute. The tried and tested bidding consortium consists of three partners from science and practice, covering the various levels of action and can ensure the relationship to reality as well as the implementation orientation of the results.

Main topics

Since the necessary political, legal and economic framework conditions depend heavily on (often only a few) decision-makers in the federal, state and city / municipalities, the project relies heavily on the integration and activation of this target group. The energy transition in Austria requires a clear political commitment, which is achieved less by technical and scientific evidence, than by the involvement and activation of relevant actors on appropriate “social innovations”.

“Social transformations arise through mutually related changes of technologies, social institutions and individual behaviors (Lifestyles) in a number of social subsystems.” Scientific Advisory Council of the Federal Government for Global Environmental Change (WBGU, 2011, p. 342) writes in his main report “World in Transition. Social contract for one Great Transformation”.

The project “transAT” actively contributes to making top-down instruments, Transformation processes and social innovations for the innovation driven Energy transition better understood and used more effectively in real life. Integrating the relevant actors from politics and administration, business, civil society, science and media are essential. Topics for the top-down steering and the governance of an energy transition in Austria is recorded, evaluated and disseminated. A Research and analysis of top-down instruments, transition processes and social issues Innovations with concrete case studies provide the basis for stakeholder workshops as well as planned “learning interactions” and “roundtables”.

Finally, with the help of experts and based on the results informed, concrete, innovative and feasible recommendations for action for the Climate and Energy Fund derived, which show a relationship to reality and an impact orientation.

Top-down instruments were in the fields of:

  1. The creation of appropriate legal bases (laws and regulations).
  2. The design of economic conditions (taxes, subsidies).
  3. The use of planning instruments (spatial planning, strategies).
  4. Methods of participation and participation of citizens (LA21 processes, regional development).
  5. Organizing, analysing, evaluating and prioritizing instruments of communication and awareness-raising.

In addition to activating stakeholders, the objectives of the basic study are to formulate policy recommendations and to describe the research and implementation activities that are required, for example for future tenders or political decision-making processes. Detailed measures are available on the topics:

  • Revenue-neutral CO2 tax
  • Climate change, emotions and communication
  • Energy in the process


Video ‚Playful research for the implementation of the engery transition‘: https://vimeo.com/313595098


Klima- und Energiefonds Energy Transition 2050:  https://energytransition.klimafonds.gv.at/


Projektkonsortium TransAT

E-Mail: transat@oin.at

Project consortium

  • Österreichisches Institut für Nachhaltigkeit (ÖIN) –Projektleitung Alfred Striegl
  • Stadt Wien – Stadtplanung und Stadtentwicklung (MA18)
  • Salzburger Institut für Raumordnung und Wohnen (SIR)


This post is also available in: German