Shaping the energy transition together: Kopernikus project Ariadne launched

In cooperation with 25 other partners, MCC starts an unprecedentedly comprehensive search for knowledge.

A lot to do: a successful energy transition is not a given, it requires discipline and hard work – that is also what the Ariadne project stands for. | Photo: Shutterstock/Tarnero


From our energy supply to the industry and the Paris climate targets, from individual sectors to the big picture: a network of leading research institutions is now starting an unparalleled research process focused on shaping the German energy transition. The Ariadne project aims at improving our understanding of the impact of different policy instruments in order to develop sound strategies for change. From the very beginning, a comprehensive dialogue between decision-makers from politics, business, and civil society will be a core part of the project.

"Climate targets alone do not guarantee success; concrete measures are needed to achieve them. This is precisely where Ariadne comes in, providing an overview and pointing out pathways to navigate through the complex challenges of the energy transition," explains Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Berlin-based climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Center on Global Commons and Climate Change) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and head of the Kopernikus project Ariadne. "By bringing together the unique expertise of 26 research partners, we can provide an overarching perspective, analyse the impact of policy instruments, and identify a whole range of possible policy options. In short – we'll be providing decision-makers with vital knowledge on the way to a climate-neutral Germany“.

The Ariadne project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with a budget of 30 million euros over three years, and is part of the Kopernikus research initiative. Ariadne is the fourth Kopernikus column, complementing the projects ENSURE, P2X and SynErgy. Together, the Kopernikus projects form one of the largest German research initiatives in the field of the energy transition.

"Power generation, heat, transport, or industry – Ariadne will develop detailed sectoral knowledge in order to show targeted measures and pathways, while always keeping in mind the big picture", explains Gunnar Luderer from PIK, deputy head of the Ariadne project. "This overarching perspective is pivotal to the project to ensure we obtain an overall picture with regard to the effectiveness of technologies and policy instruments, but also with regard to the effects of the energy transition on, for example, distributive justice, international competitiveness, and the conservation of nature and the environment.”

From the very beginning, representatives from politics, business, and the public will be actively involved in the project. At the heart of Ariadne, a policy unit will moderate this societal dialogue. "The energy transition can only succeed as a joint learning process," emphasises Brigitte Knopf, head of the project’s policy unit and Secretary General of the MCC. "With Ariadne, we will be able to respond decisively to decision-making problems in politics, while at the same time initiating targeted debates with politicians, change makers of the energy transition, and citizens.” Ariadne findings and results will be made available continuously over the entire three-year duration of the project, with policy briefs, dossiers on particular topics, background papers, visualisations, and interactive platforms.


Who is Ariadne? In Greek mythology, Ariadne’s thread enabled the legendary hero Theseus to safely navigate the labyrinth of the Minotaur. This is the guiding principle of the Ariadne energy transition project, in which a consortium of 26 partners is providing guidance and orientation for shaping the energy transition through excellent research as a joint learning process between science, politics, business and society. We are Ariadne:

adelphi | Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus – Senftenberg (BTU) | German Energy Agency (dena) | German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) | German Aerospace Center (DLR) | Ecologic Institute | Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence “Integrated Energy Systems” (CINES) | Helmholtz- Zentrum Geesthacht | Hertie School | Nuertingen Geislingen University | German Economic Institute | Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility | Institute For Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) | Oeko-Institut | Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) | RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) | Foundation 2° – German Business for Climate Protection | Foundation for Environmental Energy Law | TU Darmstadt | Technical University of Munich | Universität Hamburg | University of Münster | University of Potsdam | University of Stuttgart – Institute of Energy Economics and Rational Energy Use (IER) | ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research


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