Michèle Knodt – better decisions in the energy crisis

Michèle Knodt is Professor of Political Science at the Technical University of Darmstadt.

She suspected early on that the topic of energy would become as important: Back in 2011, Michèle Knodt submitted her first application for an EU project on the subject of energy policy. At the time, her colleagues had advised her that she should research climate policy instead. Energy policy was boring, they said. While the application was being reviewed, the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened. Energy policy was suddenly in the spotlight.

In the meantime, the political scientist is researching processes of energy transformation. Interdisciplinary work is very important to her. In addition to political scientists, engineers and computer scientists are also involved in the “Clean Circles” research project. The team is investigating how iron can be used to store renewable energies.

Consensus instead of competition

“I’m particularly interested in how to change decision-making processes to achieve a better political outcome,” Knodt says. She holds the chair of the Institute of Political Science at Darmstadt Technical University since 2005. As an advisor to the federal government, she places great emphasis on positive coordination, especially when it comes to energy. Work must be consensus-oriented, she says. The ministries are competing too much with each other.

Europe’s dependence on Russian gas has been a problem for some time. Already since September 2021, the supply volume had become severely scarce. This shortage has now been exacerbated by Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine.

The political scientist estimates that Germany will be up to 25 percent short of the commodity this coming winter. “This is going to be a really tough winter.” LNG terminals, floating stations with liquefied natural gas, are currently the only chance to compensate for the gas shortage for the next few months. However, it is unclear whether these will be ready in time.

Also privately in demand as an expert

The professor advises private households to reduce their gas consumption as much as possible. This is also easy on the wallet. “We have to realize that this is a crisis situation.” In her circle of friends, she is currently the expert on this omnipresent topic: “No matter where I go, people ask what they should do.” For the winters of the next few years, she says, there needs to be a radical rethink.

Dependence on Russian gas was the mistake. People put cost efficiency before energy security,” says Knodt. She says policymakers need to ensure more diversification and, above all, change decision-making processes. In her opinion, a coordination body is needed. In addition, the federal government needs to work together more closely with the states to get a grip on the energy crisis. Kim Fischer

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