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Energy Transition Engineering Research

Every aspect of human enterprise has always been intimately reliant on access to and engineered use of energy. The COP21 Paris Agreement (2015) requires the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. The relationship between energy transition and the long-term wellbeing of societies and ecosystems is now a critically important interdisciplinary research area. Energy transition means the dramatic decline of fossil fuel production by at least 10% per annum. It is very important that we get this right. 

 The COVID19 pandemic caused the shut-down of nonessential travel, retail and manufacturing, which resulted in an 11% decline in oil demand over the first half of 2020, according to the IEA. The COVID19 response has already spurred the development of online meeting and teaching products. The curtailment of personal and public transport also provided new perspectives for urban residents on the quality of life with traffic down to a bare minimum. This Special Issue invites the early and innovative analysis of interventions, policies, new businesses, technology innovations and ways to facilitate behaviour and expectation changes. For the past few decades, sustainable energy researchers have focused on renewable energy production and alternative technologies. In this special issue we seek the technical analysis of projects involving changes to engineered systems, but also new kinds of markets, IT, communications, property development, social business, policy and behaviour.  Energy transition projects are necessarily “upstream” in nature. Innovations in research, and even research proposals and research methodologies, that are “ground up” are also sought for sharing with the energy transition field. Examples of energy transition research projects are as follows:

  • Concept design and scenario modelling of transition shift projects in any subject;
  • Building renovation programme design and financial innovations which achieve passive standards for low energy consumption, plus walking access to activity systems and affordability;
  • Changes to urban form that result in no need for private vehicles, quality community interaction and play spaces, low crime, urban forestation, community gardening, affordable housing and commercial property, and water quality;
  • Changes to the manufacturing, business platform and product line that eliminate disposable plastic;
  • Changes to urban development policy and real estate models that result in affordable residential living with access to activities via active modes;
  • Changes to agricultural practices and economic models that build up soil and forest ecology, and provide full nutrition access for all people with no wastage;
  • Changes to corporate and local policies that result in partnerships in production, conservation and recovery, as well as economic participation and education;
  • Strategic ecological reserve constructions that lead to the recovery of fresh water, ocean, grassland, desert and forest ecosystems, while improving human understanding, enjoyment and enterprise.

The need is clear for these and many other energy research projects in order to achieve the transition to future livable cities, viable economies, low carbon energy systems, the recovery of ecosystems and a stabilised climate. Energy Transition Engineering requires new types of research that are interdisciplinary and innovative, and that integrate engineering, management and policy. Energy transition is emerging, but the rigorous treatment of innovative processes, designs, implementations and outcomes is necessary to enable evolution from last century’s projects of growth to this century’s projects of transition to very low energy. 

Papers in any subject area are invited for consideration as Energy Transition Engineering projects if they address any of the following:

  • Historical studies of the dynamics of change in energy technology, economics, end use or resource use, or the examination of past energy transitions;
  • Concept design and development scenarios of transition shift projects;
  • Big data collection and management, and methods to deal with the complexity of today’s energy ecosystems. In particular, studies of perception and energy end use behaviour in buildings and transportation are particularly of interest;
  • Biophysical energy scenarios that explore the future if historical trends continue, and that critically evaluate the probability of new technologies arising to fill the technological and efficiency gaps between future growing energy use and declining carbon emissions;
  • Analysis of oil, gas and other energy sources in the long-term, especially modelling of the geological and energy return on energy invested (EROI) implications of energy sources and different types of energy systems;
  • Future studies of energy supply and end use systems, and the innovative modelling and exploration of biophysically rational futures;
  • Design of policy, business and community opportunities for transition developments;
  • Descriptions of energy transition projects with case studies of design, stakeholders, investment or marketing strategies. In particular, novel project plans and new analysis tools that could be useful to others in similar situations are welcomed;
  • Case studies for completed energy transition projects with analysis of the outcomes, learning from the project, and evaluation of the potential for further projects to lead to localised energy transitions.

Prof. Dr. Susan Krumdieck
Guest Editor


Manuscript Submission Information


Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.