Clean Circles - Iron as energy carrier in a carbon neutral circular energy economy

The project Clean Circles is researching the climate-neutral storage of energy in iron so it can be used to transport regeneratively generated electricity CO2-free. This interdisciplinary cluster project is tasked with analysing the active principle, the overall balance, the economic aspects and the use of the current infrastructure of this process. Using an energy-substance-cycle it is possible to meet the formidable challenge of fluctuating power generation from renewable energy sources.

The chair in economic policy is active in research field 4 of the project: political-economic analysis. Currently, solutions for the supply and large-scale storage of renewable energies are insufficient due to their volatility. Given the declining nuclear and coal-based energy supply, this is particularly pertinent.

Alternatives such as the use of iron as an energy carrier can only contribute to a transformation of the energy system if they are technically feasible, economically viable and ecologically sustainable. In addition, they have to be politically enforceable or regulated to encourage innovation, and socially accepted, acknowledged and supported as fair and consistent with social welfare.

The social sciences contribute by tackling fundamental questions of governance and innovation policy of the energy transformation and applied political-economic questions about the realization and later establishment of the new storage technology. Thus, the parallel investigation of technical and political-economic aspects is crucial. Research field 4 will develop political-economic factors for an integrated systems analysis that goes far beyond the usual modelling of CO2 pricing.