The future of energy systems in Germany, Europe and around the world in 2040

A Delphi study by BDEW, PwC and GIZ

How will energy systems in Germany, Europe and around the world change by 2040? What challenges will need to be overcome in the course of the next few decades? What strategic, forward-looking solutions must be developed? What impacts can be expected for energy and climate policy, economic growth, markets and consumer behaviour? How must commercial enterprises, consulting firms and international cooperation actors prepare?
These are the questions examined in a Delphi study conducted jointly by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e.V. – BDEW), the management consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Delphi studies are instruments for 'strategic foresight', or research of the future, and are used to identify and assess possible future events and developments. By focusing on the period up to 2040, the joint study by BDEW, PwC and GIZ looks at a quarter of a century, which is equivalent to the span of about one generation.

Eighty renowned experts and pioneering thinkers from developing countries, emerging economies and industrialised countries were interviewed about their expectations for energy systems of the future. The interviewees came from the fields of academia, politics, business and civil society. They included representatives of the World Bank and the African Development Bank, Indian members of parliament and representatives of the African Union Commission. As representatives of the international academic community, staff from universities on all continents added their expertise. Greenpeace Germany had a chance to contribute along with the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) and representatives of companies from Germany and abroad, such as BP Europe SE, Siemens AG and RWE AG.

The interviewees' contributions were synthesised into propositions that describe the future of energy systems and were subsequently evaluated by 350 international experts. The results of the Delphi study identify alternative development paths that provide decision-makers from the fields of politics, business and civil society with impetus and tools for strategic processes. The study also offers GIZ valuable insights, expanding its technical expertise.

On behalf of the German Government, GIZ is currently helping to develop solutions in more than 100 countries aimed at achieving a number of objectives, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius and the adaptation of living conditions to the impacts of climate change. There are also projects geared to protecting forests in Viet Nam and to strengthening India's climate targets. Together with its Brazilian partners, GIZ is working to develop environmentally friendly alternatives for generating power. The results of the Delphi study will help GIZ to continuously improve its work.