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Karoline Augenstein was born in Heidelberg on March 5th, 1985.
During her Bachelor's in "European Studies" at the University of Maastricht, she focused on European environmental policy and the EU's strategy for sustainable development. The implementation of this strategy in EU industrial policy was the subject of her bachelor's thesis. She could gain a new perspective on the field of sustainability and especially on related challenges during an internship with Daimler AG, where she worked in the fields of sustainability reporting and corporate social responsibility. In 2010, she completed her Master's in "Sustainbility Economics and Management" at the University of Oldenburg. While in Oldenburg, she began to develop an interest in the field of "transition research", which deals with socio-technical change processes. In her master's thesis, she studied sustainability-related change processes in the science system and will continue to focus on "transitions" in her dissertation project:
"Transition of socio-technical regimes through sector cooperations in the field of renewable energy and e-mobility"
The objective of creating an energy supply system which completely relies on renewable energy sources depends on a number of technological innovations, but also on their successful embedding in existing socio-technical structures. The diffusion of renewable energies – which is very difficult in practice – may gain new impetus due to developments in the field of mobility. In the future, emission-free individual mobility could be guaranteed by broad diffusion of e-mobility concepts, whereas a genuine benefit for the environment will only occur if energy needed for electric vehicles can be produced by renewable sources. Thus, there is a strong correlation of strategies in automotive and energy supply sectors, especially since electric car batteries could provide temporary storage space for volatile renewable energy (wind, photovoltaics). Strategies currently discussed in this context all rely on the development of smart grids. Hence, the IT- and telecommunications-industry is another sector which is of key importance to a sustainable transition.
Considering e-mobility as a specific field of application, it becomes evident that for realising the vision of "100% renewable energy" a new constellation of actors and novel forms of sector convergence can be advantageous. In spite of numerous technological solutions, the diffusion of comprehensive sustainable system innovations has been slow-moving both in the mobility as well as in the energy sector. This can be explained by the existing infrastructure, laws and regulations as well as consumer attitudes and behavioural patterns.
In transition theory, these elements are described as "regime"-factors. The field of transition research, largely developed in the Netherlands, has produced first approaches in dealing with complex transition processes. However, these approaches currently focus on sector-specific transition strategies. Studies with a focus on cross-sectoral strategies - such as those beginning to show in energy supply, automotive as well as IT businesses - are still lacking.
It is the aim of this dissertation project to study the specific type of sector cooperations needed to change energy and mobility regimes from a transition research perspective. Based on case studies of selected business strategies and energy- and mobility-scenarios of the Wuppertal Institute, patterns of cooperation that may foster broad diffusion of renewable energy will be identified.