The Energiewende: Developing Scenarios for a Carbon-Neutral Industry in Germany
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Scenario planning provides stakeholders with a tool to understand the future. Through the depiction of different possible futures, it informs decision-making and challenges how we think about future developments. In Germany, a series of studies modeled various pathways to climate neutrality by 2045/50. Although giving valuable insights, they fall short of explaining how they arrived at the scenarios they modeled. This thesis aims to address this gap. It focuses on the decarbonization of the industry, which is one of the key challenges on the path to achieve climate neutrality by 2045, as targeted by the German government. It does so by applying a systems approach, which aims to explain other developments that are linked to industry as well. In addition to techno-economic factors, qualitative developments such as societal trends, corporate strategies, the political framework, and others are also taken into account. To achieve this, the thesis utilizes a cross-impact balancing (CIB) technique. CIB allows for the construction of consistent scenarios by creating a matrix of interactions between different developments. Through a structured expert elicitation, these interactions are assessed one by one on whether they promote or restrict each other. For the expert elicitation, essays portray the possible course that each of the individual developments considered could take. Then, the matrix is analyzed with software. That way, sixteen scenarios are developed, which are consistent within the CIB framework. Four of these are described in more detail through storylines: one scenario where developments occur late and decarbonization seems at risk, one where PtX is the dominant energy carrier, one where a quick scale-up of technologies makes decarbonization possible, and one where societal change and the establishment of a circular economy leads to a reduction in demand. Furthermore, the impact of the different developments upon each other is assessed. Because of how the method is constructed, a few uncertainties regarding the scenarios arise, e.g., about the combination of some developments in the scenarios. Still, the structured approach offers advantages over the usual, less systematic scenario planning techniques.
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