11.2020 - 10.2023

The Future of Sector Coupling at the Municipal Level – ZuSkE

The expansion of renewable energies for electricity generation and the increased use of low-CO2 energy sources in the heat supply and mobility sectors are considered key elements of the energy transition. Accordingly, for full decarbonization, coupling the electricity, heat, and transport sectors is necessary. Many decisions to enable sector coupling are made at the municipal level and depend on local conditions. In this context, the identification of possible potentials as well as target group-specific communication between municipal decision-makers and other stakeholders plays an important role.


The joint project “ZuSkE: The Future of Sector Coupling at the Municipal Level (ZuSkE) – Shaping, Evaluating and Acting Together” therefore aims, on the one hand, to develop and evaluate municipal sector coupling strategies in an inter- and transdisciplinary manner. On the other hand, the project focuses on a user-centered, participatory development of communication tools for local actors to support municipalities in the transformation process (and beyond). The project is being conducted in cooperation with three sample municipalities with different regional circumstances. Specifically, these are Walldorf (Baden-Württemberg), Freilassing (Bavaria) and the city of Berlin. In addition, other municipal stakeholders such as network operators, energy suppliers, citizens, and supraregional multipliers are involved in the development process. The project also aims to ensure that the methodology and process design are transferable to other municipalities.

The project pursues the following sub-goals:

  • Scenarios of sector coupling: Inter- and transdisciplinary development of municipal sector coupling scenarios and derived options for action at the municipal level
  • Communication of sector coupling options: Research and testing of visualization and communication forms for energy transition measures with close involvement (participation) of societal actors
  • Acceptance of sector coupling: research into acceptance and participation in the transformation process for the energy transition
  • Options for the action of sector coupling: derivation of possibilities for action in multi-level governance with special focus on the municipal/regional context
  • Good governance for a municipal sector coupling: Identification of key influencing factors for a municipal sector coupling as well as an elaboration of proposals for good governance as a framework based on enabling and constraining functions.
ZuSkE visualizes the regional energy transition - in a participatory process with municipal stakeholders

FfE in ZuSkE

The subproject of the FfE in ZuSkE deals with the participatory development and testing of web applications to visualize sector coupling strategies for municipalities. The following research topics are investigated:

  • Survey and visualization of energy consumption and potentials for renewable energies and sector coupling options for the three practical municipalities
  • Participative development of content-related and visual concepts for communication with and for municipal stakeholders
  • Provision of freely available web applications
  • Transfer of the results to other municipalities

In addition to FfE, the consortium includes the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), DIALOGIK gemeinnützige Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Kooperationsforschung mbH, and the Zivilgesellschaftliche Plattform Forschungswende.

The research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) (funding code: 03EI5205C).