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Copernicus Institute

Research group

Energy and Resources

Transition to a more sustainable society

Sustainable development is one of the core themes of research and education at Utrecht University. Within the transition to a more sustainable society, energy and resources present the key challenges. The research theme Energy and Resources addresses a number of the grand challenges of our times: how to realize a sustainable energy system within a world constrained by climate change and increasingly resource scarcity (e.g. water, raw materials, land).

Variety of themes

The challenges include a variety of themes, e.g. realizing the efficient use of energy and materials, shifting to unconventional and renewable energy sources, mitigating the risks of and adapting to climate change, reducing unsustainable land use change, and redirecting the industrial metabolism.

Future energy and material systems

Environmental sustainability, affordability, security, and social acceptance are key criteria for future energy and material systems. Pressure on the world’s ecosystems and resources is increasing rapidly, necessitating the accelerated deployment of technologies, systems, measures and governance. However, the issues are all interconnected; specific technologies and pathways can quickly lead to trade-offs and conflicts with other issues (e.g. increased use of scarce resources, economics). Utrecht University offers the unique capacity to address those challenges and issues in an integral manner and deal simultaneously with a variety of dimensions: from fundamental material sciences, technology assessment, to governance, scale (local to global), time, and combining the bottom-up and top down perspectives .

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