Earlier this year the joint proposal for a prestigious, 4M Euros funded EU-project for energy system research in which University of Groningen participated, came through (only 6.5% of all applications have been funded, meaning that our proposal was among the best!). The project, Energy Systems in Transition (ENSYSTRA), funded by the European Union in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme aims to train 15 ‘Early Stage Researchers’ (ESRs). At the start of November the parties involved in the ENSYSTRA programme assembled in Groningen at Energy Academy Europe to engage in the formal kick-off of the project. Energy Academy Europe, through University of Groningen, is coordinator of the project in which 5 more European universities participate.

To facilitate the necessary energy transition, there is an urgent need for highly trained professionals with the scientific knowledge and professional skills to analyse, understand and design relevant (new) energy systems and governance in different sectors and administration.

ENSYSTRA is a training network. As many as 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will perform their PhD at one of the six universities of the network, and will have a shared training programme and work on interlinked research projects. The universities involved are from North Sea countries: University of Edinburgh (SC), Chalmers University (SE), University of Stavinger (NO), Aalborg University (DK), Europa-Universität Flensburg (GE), University of Groningen (NL). The training in this PhD programme will consist of workshops and summer schools, training through their research, training in interdisciplinary energy studies, training through ‘secondments’ (internships) with companies, competences training, and working with researchers from different disciplines. Research projects range from technical, to economical, techno-anthropology, systems analysis etc.

The project’s kick-off, from 1 – 3 November, joined the universities’ senior researchers and partnering companies giving their perspectives on the questions of North Sea energy systems transition they are currently working on, the challenges they are facing and discussing the required skills and competences of the energy professional of the future. In the next weeks 15 PhD positions are expected to be published, calling for applications. The project launch with the ESR’s is planned for spring 2018.

ENSYSTRA in a nutshell:

    • Interdisciplinary model collaboration including new energy technologies & infrastructures; actor behavior & interactions; policy & market design
    • Interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral and applied perspectives on the energy transition
    • Training in interdisciplinary analysis
    • Fostering cooperation between academic disciplines, applied research, industry and public sector
    • Open source science.

Through a carefully designed training programme, ESRs are trained in both scientific and transferable skills with ample opportunity to collaborate between different projects and partners. The total effort will result in major progress in the field of energy system analysis and transition modelling. By the combined use and improvement of a range of modelling tools and methods, the project will deliver integral insights in energy transition pathways, policy implications and options for the North Sea region.


6 universities in North Sea countries:
University of Edinburgh (SC), Chalmers University (SE), University of Stavinger (NO), Aalborg University (DK), Europa-Universität Flensburg (GE), University of Groningen (NL)

23 non-academic partners:
Aalborg Portland, ARGE Netz, Community Energy Scotland, ENGIE Nederland, Göteborg Energi, IZT, Lyse, NAM, Norwegian Energy Partners, Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, Gasunie, Ocean Rainforest, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Scottish Government, Scottish Power Energy Networks, Sea NRG(=Goodfuels), Shell Global Solutions, Statkraft, ECN, Swedish Energy Agency, TNO, World Wind Energy Association, WPD Windmanager.