Najamul Saqib Memon awarded for research on Bottom-up Energy models in Pakistan

Picture: IBA, 2023
Picture: IBA, 2023

December 18, 2023 | Between 16th and 18th November 2023, Najamul Saqib Memon from junior research group SteuerBoard Energie participated in the “Third Annual International Conference of Economics and Social Sciences – Challenging Linearity” jointly organized by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and School of Economic and Social Sciences (SESS), Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi.


The conference was attended by scholars and experts from countries like the USA, Germany, Thailand, Indonesia, and India. In the three-day conference various cross-cutting themes were brought under discussion for example future of energy, green growth and green jobs, artificial intelligence, health and development, sustainable energy future and the energy transition. In the doctoral symposium Memon presented his research on the Bottom-up Energy models in Pakistan, and his paper got the best paper award with a cash prize of PKR 25,000.


The Chief Economist of World Bank for South Asian region Franziska Ohnsorge said in the keynote speech that most of South Asian countries have been affected by climate disasters in last decade which is not a good indicator for the economic growth. However, green growth and energy efficient technologies can spur the investments and economic growth in the region. In a panel “Sustainable Energy Futures in Developing Countries” Dr. Afia Malik from Pakistan Institute of Development Economics highlighted the need of decentralization of energy at local level. Whereas Prof. Jens Lowitzsch from Kelso Institute Europe stressed the need of creating ownership models through Consumer Stock Ownership Plans (CSOP) in the off-grid rural areas to resolve the issue of energy access in far-flung areas of Pakistan.


More about the conference

Book of abstracts

After movie: Insights of the SummerSchool Energy 2023

November 24, 2023 | Participation, Financing and environmental protection: Three important topics of the energy transition. But did you know how they are related? In the SummerSchool Energy, organized by the Junior Research Group SteuerBoard Energie, international students, PhD’s and experts drew connections between them. The summer school took place from August 28th to September 1st 2023 at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.


To give an insight to all those who were unable to attend, the video shows some highlights of the SummerSchool and showcases main findings. The Junior Research Group wants to thank everyone who helped and participated in the SummerSchool Energy! Special thanks to everyone contributing, filming and processing the video.

The Potential of Renewable Energy in Pakistan: case study of off-grid hydro power projects

Group photo with members of Shishkat Power Plant Aliabad (Picture: Najam Memon, 2023)
Group photo with members of Shishkat Power Plant Aliabad (Picture: Najam Memon, 2023)

October 10, 2023 | In the last week of May 2023 Najam Memon from the junior research group SteuerBoard Energie embarked on a journey of PhD field research in Pakistan. During his field visit, he engaged with Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad and met various stakeholders including Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP)Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP)Gilgit Baltistan Rural Support Program (GBRSP), and other local and national institutes and experts in the energy sector. As a part of his research, special focus was paid on understanding the financing and regulatory frameworks of the bottom-up energy models across the country. Based on literature, the northern parts, i.e. Gilgit, Hunza, Chitral, Azad and Jammu Kashmir (Neelum) etc.,  were chosen as a sample. Snowballing and nomination techniques were adopted to collect the primary and secondary data. During his visit, Najam Memon managed to engage with different rural, off-grid communities and explored different cases of community energy models.


One of the preliminary findings is:

  • To harness the real potential of renewable energy resources and successfully benefit from the community energy model(s) there should be a proper business model. Unfortunately, the Committee based community organizations lack such business model, which often makes those models unsustainable. However, Community based public limited utility company are a step forward with proper rules, byelaws and working business models which qualify them as sustainable community model.

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Environmental Impacts of Smart Energy Systems: New Analysis Provides Guidance for Life Cycle Assessments

October 6, 2023 | Does digitalization have a positive effect on the efficient integration of renewable energy sources and on the coordination of generation and supply? The current state of research suggests so: The move toward digital, intelligent energy systems – or smart energy systems – includes new applications for digital tools at the distribution grid level, such as smart charging strategies for electric vehicles or energy management systems in buildings. However, an environmental assessment of such systems is a challenge in research. Standardized life cycle assessment (LCA) approaches are inadequate because smart energy systems are new technologies at the intersection of digitalization and energy. Often their environmental impacts are intended – as with efficiency gains, but there are also unintended effects such as behavioral changes that can lead to additional energy consumption.


A new analysis by junior research group member Hannes Bluhm and other researchers shows that the effects of the applications on the energy system, i.e., effects on the electricity mix and energy networks, potentially have the greatest influence on the life cycle assessment result. This is followed by effects caused by usage behavior and technological effects (production, operation, disposal of digital components). At the same time, assessing system and behavioral effects is a complex challenge for an environmental assessment. To address the complexity, the article presents guidance strategies and recommendations that point researchers toward a holistic environmental assessment of digital energy use cases.


In the peer-reviewed article, Hannes Bluhm (IÖW) and co-authors Daniela Wohlschlager (Forschungsstelle für Energiewirtschaft), Severin Beucker (Borderstep Institute), Johanna Pohl (TU Berlin) and Magnus Fröhling (TU Munich) address the challenges for carrying out LCAs of digital use cases in the energy sector. The article focuses primarily on suitable solutions for the assessment. For this purpose, the authors analyzed seven research projects and conducted a workshop with LCA experts.


View Article


SummerSchool Energy: Young Scientists Want to Advance the Energy Transition Interdisciplinarily

Picture: IÖW
Picture: IÖW

September 8, 2023 | From August 28th to September 1st, 2023, we, the PhD students of the junior research group "SteuerBoard Energie" organized the "SummerSchool Energy - Financing, participation, and environmental protection in community renewable energy projects" at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Together with 30 PhD and Master students from different countries from India to Italy, we explored, discussed, and connected topics like financing and regulation of the energy transition, citizen participation (community energy), citizen science and nature protection around renewable energy production.


In addition to inputs from experts from science and practice, there was a panel discussion, various formats to contribute and develop your own ideas, and three practical workshops: A simulation game on the "Not in my Backyard discussion"; the construction and functioning of a mobile solar system and a workshop on the "SenseBox" with sensors for environmental data collection in Citizen Science projects. We further deepened the newly established networks in the evening with events in the beer garden, a city tour, a board game evening and a pub crawl.


More information here 


Supporting Energy Security in Pakistan and Transition to Sustainable Sources through Regional Cooperation

August 29, 2023 | On 17th August 2023 Najamul Saqib Memon from the junior research group SteuerBoard Energie took part in a round table discussion as an expert on community energy models in Pakistan. The round table focused on the theme “Supporting Energy Security in Pakistan and Transition to Sustainable Sources through Regional Cooperation”. It was organized with the collaboration of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Friedrich Nauman Foundation (FNF).


The meeting was attended by different stakeholders and experts from the region South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). During the round table the experts highlighted several issues concerning the energy security of Pakistan and the region. They mainly discussed importance of energy and regional cooperation for the socio-economic and industrial development. Mr. Ahsan Javed from SAARC Energy Center Islamabad pointed out that the region is full of potential for renewable energy (especially hydro) but unfortunately, not even the 10% of hydropotential has still been tapped. Among other, he also stressed the need of cross-border exchange. Whereas Dr. Khalid Waleed from SDPI illuminated, cross-border energy trade has been underrated – it’s time we cannot ignore this aspect. Junior research group member Najam Memon pinpointed the need to learn from European experience and suggest three solutions for bringing the regional cooperation:

  1. Knowledge exchange among communities and among regulators
  2. Setting up proper regulatory frameworks at national and regional level
  3. More emphasis on consumers’ rights and engagement in the energy sector

Recording of the round table

Presentation by Hannes Bluhm on environmental impacts of digitalization in the energy sector at Berliner ENERGIETAGE 2023

May 8, 2023 | The digital edition of ENERGIETAGE took place from May 3 to 5. The event discusses current energy and climate policy directions, technical developments and societal aspects - with the aim of bringing the energy transition into rapid implementation together with all stakeholders.


 All relevant players in the fields of energy transition and climate protection will participate in ENERGIETAGEN 2023 with their own events. On May 4, 2023, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) organized the program item "Ecological effects of the digitalized energy sector. Benefits and Risks". Here, among others, junior research group member Hannes Bluhm addressed the question of the extent to which political expectations and scientific findings on the overall ecological impact of digital applications coincide and where the largest regulatory and knowledge gaps currently exist in his contribution "Environmental impacts of digitalization in the energy sector - A scientific perspective". The relevant environmental impacts were presented based on various technologies, and best practice examples were used to show ways in which these impacts can be minimized. It was also discussed how the framework conditions should be designed to create incentives for the most environmentally friendly use of digital technologies.

Life cycle assessment shows: Households participating in virtual pools of photovoltaic storage systems contribute to environmental and climate protection

19th January 2023 | Large fossil-fuel power plants still stabilize the power system in the event of fluctuations in the energy supply due to fluctuating power generation from wind and solar plants. But there are increasingly renewable replacements: More and more German households have their own photovoltaic system with battery storage. If these storage systems are virtually connected with each other using digital information and communication technologies (ICT), they can take over such stabilizing services for the energy system. The Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) has now conducted a detailed life cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental effects of such virtual pools. The conclusion: there are major benefits for climate protection and the environment as a whole. With the predicted further expansion of photovoltaic storage systems, pooling them should therefore also increase, the researchers recommend.


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Expert workshop on life cycle assessment of smart energy use cases organized

14th November 2022 | Junior research group members Hannes Bluhm and Swantje Gährs together with Daniela Wohlschlager (Forschungsstelle für Energiewirtschaft), Severin Beucker (Borderstep Institute), Johanna Pohl (TU Berlin) and Magnus Fröhling (TU Munich) organized an expert workshop on the topic of Life Cycle Assessment of Smart Energy Use Cases on November 7, 2022.


In addition to the hosts, 12 European LCA experts from research, consulting and industry participated. The goal of the workshop was to identify challenges and possible solutions for a holistic environmental assessment of smart energy use cases together with the participants. "In these use cases, digitalization plays a central role, with the help of which, for example, energy savings or a more environmentally friendly electricity mix are to be achieved. The complex task to assess environmental benefits and burdens poses greater challenges for LCA experts in their analyses. The workshop provided an opportunity for exchange," says Hannes Bluhm of the IÖW.


The hosts are planning to prepare the results of the workshop in a scientific publication that will support LCA analysts in the future analysis of smart energy use cases.


The presentation of the workshop with selected results can be downloaded here:


Smart Energy Expert Workshop
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 2.0 MB

Jan Wiesenthal now in the council for the Bündnis Bürgerenergie

26th October 2022 | Junior research group PhD student Jan Wiesenthal has been appointed to the council for the Bündnis Bürgerenergie. As part of the junior research group, he is conducting research on prosumer communities - i.e. citizens who jointly generate and consume their own electricity. His motivation for joining the council is to strengthen citizens as actors in the energy transition: "It is close to my heart to support and advise the Bündnis Bürgerenergie in its goal of an energy supply run by citizens with my scientific findings," says Wiesenthal. The council develops opinions and arguments on and for citizen energy and advises the executive board of the Bündnis Bürgerenergie.


Junior Research Group at Bits & Bäume 2022

5th October 2022 | Swantje Gährs and Hannes Bluhm from the team of the junior research group used the stage of the Bits & Bäume Conference at the TU Berlin on the first weekend in October to discuss with the visitors under the title "Digitalisation = Decarbonisation & Democratisation? - Energy Communities in Transition": How can we use digitalization for sustainable change in the decentralized energy system? What are digital support options for energy communities? Where is the limit of what digitalization can offer?


These questions were first highlighted in an overview talk by Swantje Gährs and then discussed together with two actors from research and practice. Franziska Straten from Naturstrom reported on her work with tenant power projects and what current and future challenges can be expected there. Simon Bauer from inno2grid was also part of the discussion group and reported on the research and implementation projects on the topic of smart grids.


For all those who missed the Bits & Bäume Conference, you can watch the panel again under this link (in German)


To the presentation of Swantje Gährs


Better framework conditions for decentralized energy supply: SteuerBoard Energie participated in ECPR General Conference 2022

2nd September 2022 | From August 22 to 26, 2022, Najamul Saqib Memon, member of the junior research group SteuerBoard Energie, participated in the ECPR General Conference 2022 in Innsbruck. He gave a presentation on the emergence and development of bottom-up energy models in the panel "Empirical and Conceptual Developments in Polycentric Climate Governance" together with junior research group member Lars Holstenkamp, who digitally attended the conference.

The panel, led by Paul Tobin of the University of Manchester, addressed approaches to the empirical study of polycentric governance structures in different application domains. Here, the contribution by Najamul Saqib Memon and Lars Holstenkamp emphasized in particular the role of regulatory frameworks for the future expansion of decentralized energy supply. Following on from this, the panel discussion of the panel considered the future of electricity systems: These will be polycentric and thus greater involvement of local actors and communities will play a greater role in the future, according to the participants. Looking ahead, the conference guests made clear in their exchange with each other that further research and cooperation in the field of sustainable energy systems is necessary and possible.


Talks from Junior Research Group Session at Leuphana Energieforum 2022 online

27th September 2022 | At the 10th Leuphana Energy Forum, the Junior Research Group held a session entitled "How can collaborative energy supply be launched in a sustainable way?”. In this session, team member Jan Wiesenthal (IÖW) presented findings on energy sharing and Katharina Umpfenbach (Ecologic) addressed the topic of tenant electricity and presented the relevance of the topic as well as current and future framework conditions. The slides for both presentations (in German) are available for download on the Energy Forum page:

Research Group organizes Session at Leuphana Energieforum 2022

26th July 2022 | On September 6, 2022, the 10th Leuphana Energy Forum will take place on the topic "Social challenges of the accelerated energy transition". The event is organized by Leuphana University Lüneburg together with the Climate Protection and Energy Agency of Lower Saxony (KEAN) and the ECOLOG Institute for Social-Ecological Research and Education. In a plenary session and seven panel sessions in the morning and afternoon, participants will discuss recent developments in the energy sector as well as the resulting social challenges for consumers and possibilities for action, with the aim of achieving the broadest possible participation in the energy transition.


The junior research group will discuss, among others, with Thorge Wendt from the practice partner Nordgröön and Arthur Hinsch from the associated advisory board ICLEI in a panel session starting at 2 p.m. how community energy supply can be sustainably launched. The panel session will be facilitated by the head of the junior research group Dr. Swantje Gährs from IÖW. Based on concrete inputs on models of collaborative energy supply, e.g. by Jan Wiesenthal from the team of the junior research group, it will be discussed how the potentials of these models can be raised in a timely manner and which changes are needed for this.


The event is offered as a hybrid format on-site at Leuphana and online via Zoom. For more information and to register, visit We are looking forward many participants!


Article about energy sufficiency and rebound-effects in prosumer households

20th July 2022 | Rebound-effect or sufficiency-oriented? According to studies, PV prosumers tend to consume up to 18% more electricity. However, it also shows that some of the prosumer households reduce their consumption after acquiring a PV system. As a consequence, more or less PV electricity is available to the power system for other consumers, that other power plants with comparatively high emissions have to adjust their feed-in accordingly. Since a massive expansion of rooftop PV power plants is expected in the next years, the effect of increasing emissions can be significant for climate targets. The goal of the paper, in which junior research group members Jan Wiesenthal and Hannes Bluhm were involved, is to demonstrate the importance of the sufficiency behavior of energy prosumer households for climate neutrality goals and to quantify greenhouse gas emissions at the household and energy system level in Germany. Based on the results, the scientists make recommendations for promoting energy sufficiency.


Emission scenario 2030


According to the research results, up to 5.2 million additional tons of CO2 equivalents could be emitted in 2030 due to rebound effects in prosumer households. This corresponds to just under 5% of the permissible emission ceilings for the entire energy industry in 2030. In the best case, however, if sufficiency-effects take effect in a targeted and widespread manner, up to 3.9 million metric tons of CO2 can be saved in 2030.


Promote energy sufficiency in prosumer households


To promote energy sufficiency in prosumer households, the researchers recommend raising prosumers' awareness of their own contribution to the energy transition through information and advice. In addition, the researchers recommend making the statutory compensation for PV power feed-in more attractive. In the event that prosumer households make use of special cloud and community tariffs for their electricity consumption and feed-in, these should be set up in such a way that they reward energy-sufficient behavior.


To the article


New member for SteuerBoard Energie

2nd May 2022 | Since the beginning of May, the junior research group is joined by Julia Lüdemann as a new fellow researcher. After studying environmental and sustainability sciences at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, she has already gained project experience at the ECOLOG Institute in Lüneburg and is now looking forward to taking the next step with the PhD position.


Julia Lüdemann will investigate the effects of renewable energy plants on local biodiversity. The aim is to use digital tools to measure and communicate effects so that synergies can be considered directly in the planning of new plants. The motivation for this was the fact that an acceleration of the energy transition will further exacerbate the existing land conflicts surrounding renewable energies. Therefore, it is important for Julia to bring the focus of the scientific discussion on the creation of synergies, in order to resolve these conflicts constructively.


The team of the junior research group is pleased to welcome Julia Lüdemann to its ranks and is looking forward to working together.


Publication of energy services of neighborhood storage and the potentials of a multi-use concept published

24th March 2022 | In order to master the energy transition in Germany, renewable energies must be expanded at all levels. At the same time, it also requires technologies for storage and intelligent networking. Battery storage systems play an important role here and are currently being used increasingly at the household level primarily to increase self-consumption. This is both inefficient in battery utilization and unprofitable in most cases.


Multiple use cases for battery storage possible


A study by junior group PhD candiadate Jan Wiesenthal (IÖW) and co-author Frieder Schnabel (Fraunhofer IAO) has now investigated the extent to which multi-use of battery storage can increase profitability and efficiency. The results were published as part of a pre-reviewed journal article at Atlantis Press.


The most promising energy services include electric vehicle charging, peer-to-peer electricity trading, and participation in the balancing energy market. It was also shown that, through flexible allocation, much of the storage capacity can be used for other services. The simulation of two communities showed that more than 30% of the storage capacity can be used for secondary services with only a small loss of self-consumption share (-2%).


Adaptations of the legal framework necessary


The results make it clear, community storage and the implementation of multi-use concepts has untapped potential. Currently, the legal framework especially hinders community storage and should therefore be changed.


To the publication


Exchange on community energy and energy cooperatives in Poland and Germany

23th February 2022 |At the end of 2021, Tomasz Marzec from Adam Mickiwicz University in Poznań visited Lars Holstenkamp's seminar on Energy Communities across Europe. Tomasz Marzec exchanged views on energy communities in Germany and Poland with the research group. His conclusion: things are happening in terms of community energy in Poland - although at a slower pace than in Germany.


In the meantime, something is also happening in Poland in terms of community energy and energy communities - even if the movement is not yet as strong as in Germany. This is what guest researcher Tomasz Marzec highlights during his short stay at INSUGO (Institute of Sustainability Governance) at Leuphana University Lüneburg. Tomasz Marzec is working at the Institute of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Law at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań on the topic of energy cooperatives in Poland compared to selected European countries, including Germany. During his two-week stay in December 2021, he will primarily exchange ideas with colleagues from the research group, take part in Lars Holstenkamp's master's seminar on Energy Communities across Europe, and give a presentation on the law of energy cooperatives in Poland.


Why does Poland have hardly any energy cooperatives so far?


In his presentation, Marzec points out various factors that contribute to the fact that there are very few energy cooperatives in Poland: Marzec rates the conditions that projects must meet as very high. According to the scientist, there are no funding opportunities to help energy cooperatives get off the ground and operators of distribution grids (re)act rather dismissively.

There is currently a lack of viable business models.

The historical experience with state cooperatives during the communist era also contributes to this. As a result, the idea of a cooperative lacks a positive connotation.


Private commitment instead of governmental regulations


According to Marzec, however, there is a growing private commitment to renewable energies in Poland, but more on an individual level. Marzec describes the prosumer movement in Poland as already very strong.


Energy communities in Germany and Poland: An outlook


The presentation of Tomasz Marzec is followed by a discussion about energy cooperatives and energy communities in Poland and Germany. This exchange is to be continued in the coming years. A next concrete occasion is a book project coordinated by Tomasz Marzec. This book will publish the results of the scientific conference "Legal and Economic Perspectives of Energy Cooperatives Development", which took place online in spring 2021 and was organized by UAM (Universytet im Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu).


Digital Advisory Board Meeting of the Research Group

19th October 2021 | On 5 October 2021, the research group met with the project advisory board, consisting of representatives from business, civil society organisations and scientific institutions, for a joint digital advisory board meeting. Some members of the research group presented their first interim results, which were then discussed with regard to common intersections and research interests of the practice partners. Afterwards, current topics on the design of the energy system were jointly discussed in two discussion rounds.


In the first discussion group, Bernd Hirschl from the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) gave a keynote speech on the question: “Energy transition - but how do we get there as quickly and safely as possible?”. To answer this, he presented approaches for a regional energy market design. The associated hurdles and the role of various local actors in such a decentralised energy system were then discussed.


The second slot, on the topic of “Development of Energy Communities in Europe”, dealt with the development of various bottom-up models of energy communities, different regulatory frameworks and financing options in the European context. Among other things, the participants exchanged their experiences with ongoing political processes in different countries and existing networks in this field.


The team of the research group would like to thank all representatives for their participation and is looking forward to further cooperation!


Award for SteuerBoard Co-Leader Dr. Lars Holstenkamp

29th September 2021 | On Dies Academicus 2021, Leuphana University of Lüneburg presented the Leuphana Young Researcher Award to Dr. Lars Holstenkamp for his particular academic successes and the acquisition of a professionally groundbreaking excellence format.


Lars Holstenkamp's socio-ecological research interests focus on the socially important questions of managing the energy transition, its financing and governance. At the award ceremony, Vice President Susanne Leeb praised Holstenkamp's successful work in national and international research networks. She said that these achievements were the cornerstone for the recruitment of the interdisciplinary junior research group SteuerBoard Energie, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) in the funding priority Social-Ecological Research.


Since 2006, Lars Holstenkamp's research has focused on the financing and governance of sustainable development processes, especially in the energy sector. Within the framework of the junior research group, his focus is on the interplay between the energy and financial systems.


More information on the award ceremony and on Lars Holstenkamp


Journal article on community electricity storage in neigbourhoods in Transforming Cities published

24th August 2021 | In cities, the joint storage of electricity in neighbourhoods so-called community energy storage systems (CES) can be a valuable addition to the energy system of the future. However, if the neighbourhood storage is used purely to increase self-consumption, it is hardly possible to create profitable business models.


In the article by junior research group PhD student Jan Wiesenthal (born Knoefel) (IÖW) and co-author Frieder Schnabel (Fraunhofer IAO), potential grid and system services are presented that can be provided in the context of a multi-use by the community storage system in addition to increasing self-consumption. Furthermore, using an example neighbourhood with 75 apartments, it is shown that by flexibly adjusting the storage capacities, around 28 percent of the storage capacity can be used for other services. This is possible even with only negligible effects on the self-consumption rate and self-sufficiency.


However, in order for the potential of multi-use to be realised in practice, the appropriate legal framework conditions are needed. These currently impede both community storage and the implementation of multi-use concepts.


To the publication


Accelerating the energy transition: Research Group develops smart control of the decentralised system

29th April 2021 | The German energy system is changing fundamentally: it is becoming more decentralised and self-organised, many renewable energy plants are taking the place of a few large power plants - many more actors that need to be integrated technically and organisationally into a sustainable energy system. How can this work? The junior research group SteuerBoard Energie of the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), the Leuphana University of Lüneburg and the Ecolog Institute for Social-Ecological Research and Education, with funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is investigating how the renewable decentralised energy system can be controlled at different levels.

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