Biehl, J., Missbach, L., Riedel, F., Stemmle, R., Jüchter, J., Weber, J., Kucknat, J., Odenweller, A., Nauck, C., Lukassen, L.J., Zech, M., Grimm, M.

Wicked facets of the German energy transition – examples from the electricity, heating, transport, and industry sectors

in International Journal of Sustainable Energy, 08.09.2023

Peer Review , Climate and Development

We shed light on wicked problems in the German energy transition. Our methods consist of a multiple-case study and multi-criteria analysis, utilising the wicked problems theoretical framework introduced by Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber [1973. “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.” Policy Sciences 4 (2): 155–169. Accessed August 20, 2019.]. Results from the energy supply, heating/cooling, transport, and industry sectors illustrate where and how the 10-point frame of wicked problems manifests in the German energy transition. The four cases exhibit more wicked tendencies in the governance domain than the technical domain and differ in their degrees of technology maturity, policy regulation, and knowledge states. We do not find that the German energy transition is inherently wicked. However, wickedness unfolds through the social setting into which technical solutions of the energy transition are embedded. We aim to highlight these intricacies and encourage scrutinising these wicked facets early on.