International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Energy laboratory Tübingen

The tasks of the Ethics Center in the project "Energy laboratory Tübingen" include

  • the ethical analysis of the goals and criteria for a sustainable energy supply;
  • the organisation of the ethical discourse between the local actors;
  • the integration of the ethical dimension of a sustainable energy supply into teaching and thus the integration of students.

Project leadership




January 2016 – March 2019

The project "Energy laboratory Tübingen"

The energy transition is a central challenge that (not only) our society wants to and must face in the coming years in order to drive social change in the direction of sustainable development.

This applies not only to global and national issues, but also to the concrete situation on site. The University of Tübingen, the City of Tübingen and other stakeholder groups are jointly researching in the "Energy Laboratory Tübingen" project how energy consumption can be reduced appropriately and how renewable energies can be increasingly used.

The aim of this participatory project is to determine the potential for renewable energies and to identify perspectives on a sustainable use of energy. Thereby the participation of the citizens of Tübingen is of great importance. Tübingen will thus become an "energy laboratory" in which scientists, together with practical partners and citizens, will shape a sustainable energy transition. The central focus is on experimenting with and researching social and technological innovations in Tübingen's urban space. The particularity here is that science is actively involved in the respective projects and thus changes its usually classical, distanced approach to research. Possible obstacles to implementation are to be dismantled in this way - scientists, practical partners and citizens work together to develop concrete solutions.

The implemetation of the energy transition is an essential component of the measures for sustainable development. The idea of sustainable development is based on the assumption of responsibility towards present and future generations for reasons of justice. In the light of global and intergenerational justice, it is necessary to question what and how much we need for a good life and what consequences our consumption will have. Questions around a sustainable energy transition therefore have a value-normative core and require ethical analysis and ethical discourse.

The tasks of the Ethics Centre of the University (IZEW) in the project "Energy Laboratory Tübingen" include

  •     the ethical analysis of the objectives, means and criteria of a sustainable energy supply,
  •     the organisation and implementation of ethical discourse between local actors,
  •     as well as the integration of the ethical dimension of a sustainable energy supply into teaching and thus the participation of students in the project.

The individual fields are not worked on in isolation, but are thought together and interact with each other.



Public exhibition and vernissage "Raus aus der Nische, rein in die Stadt"

A cordial invitation to the citizens' exhibition and vernissage "Raus aus der Nische, rein in die Stadt"!

The citizens' exhibition shows how Tübingen citizens contribute to climate protection in their everyday lives, what works well, where they encounter obstacles and what they want for the future.
It will take place from September 17 to September 26, 2018 in the cafeteria of the vhs Tübingen in Katharinenstraße 18, 72072 Tübingen and will begin on Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. with a vernissage.

Further information can be found on the postcard.


Workshop "Energy in self-direction"

In the afternoon of April 14, 2018 the workshop "Energy in self-direction" took place in the "Evangelisches Gemeindehaus Lustnau", initiated by the Energy laboratory Tübingen.

The energy transition is on everyone's lips, as is the question of how far cities can and should take the supply of electricity and heat into their own hands. In this context, new supply concepts are proposed, such as "energy autonomy". What is technically possible and attractive, however, is not necessarily sustainable. The question remains: What does a sustainable energy transition mean and how can it be designed fairly? And what does this mean for our Lustnau focus area?

We discussed these and other questions last Saturday (April 14, 2018) at the workshop "Energy in self-direction: common good or individual interest" at the Evangelisches Gemeindehaus of Lustnau. Invited were experts from and around the Energy Laboratory Tübingen from citizenship, politics, civil society, city and science.

On the one hand, the event focused on the discussion of central concepts such as "energy autarky", "energy autonomy" and "citizen energy". On the other hand, we linked and discussed technical, social and ethical issues, for example with regard to the topic of "neighbourhood storage facilities": Who should decide on the location of such a facility? Which households should receive electricity from the district storage facility and how should it be distributed?

Courses in SuSe 2018

"Out of the Niche, into the City: A Citizens' Exhibition in Tübingen" | Seminar (Studium Oecologicum) | Marius Albiez, Jeannine Tischler | in cooperation with the project "Scientific Education and Social Responsibility" | SuSe 2018

Courses in winter semester 2017/2018

"Energy and Sustainable Development" | Seminar (Ambrosianum College) | Marius Albiez, Andri König | WiSe 2017/2018

"Understanding, shaping and teaching sustainable development" | Seminar (teaching profession/ Bachelor of Education) | Marius Albiez, Andri König Prof. Thomas Potthast | WiSe 2017/2018


Workshop during the Week of Links 2017

On October 5, the Energy Laboratory organized a workshop titled "Sustainable Energy Consumption: How Much Is Enough and Good?" as part of the Week of Links, the first semester Academy for Sustainable Development. Together with eight freshmen this question was discussed. In addition, the possible contribution of sufficiency measures to the energy transition was illustrated and it was discussed to what extent individual lifestyles are not only a question of good but also of justice. The students were given an insight into the activities of the energy laboratory, including the turning point project "Energy Transition Households". They were also informed about activities and opportunities for participation in sustainable development at the University of Tübingen.

Workshop within the focus week of the Kantonsschule Enge, Zurich

How exactly is the pioneering city of Tübingen driving sustainable development forward and what can we learn from it for the city of Zurich and our school? An exciting and relevant question not only for the 16 pupils of the Enge cantonal school but also for the Energy Laboratory. Together we approached this question on the first day of the focus week (1-5 October in Tübingen). We discussed how science and practice can conduct joint research and contribute to a sustainable energy transition in Tübingen. The turning point project "Energy Transition Households" was cited as an example and the theory of transdisciplinarity was discussed.

Contribution to the interdisciplinary Summer School "Implementation Strategies in the Sign of the Energy Transition"

Here you can download the flyer of the summer school as pdf.

The "Energy Laboratory Tübingen" at the Sustainability Night

On May 19, the Night of Sustainability took place all over the old town. The Energy Laboratory Tübingen was also represented on the market with its own stand. In addition to stimulating conversations with citizens about the energy transition in Tübingen and exchanges about personal energy consumption, information was provided about the "Energy Transition Households" project (contact persons: Jeannine Tischler and Marius Albiez), in which Tübingen households carry out and document climate experiments over several weeks. There was also a prominent visit by the State Environment Minister Franz Untersteller and the Head Mayor Boris Palmer.

There was also a special eye-catcher: the "Poetry Box". It was designed, built and presented by the participants of the course "Shaping Sustainable Development" at the Leibniz-Kolleg. The idea is to present poetry on the subject of sustainable development in the box.

Courses in SuSe 2017

"Sustainable Energy Supply at Addis Ababa and Tuebingen" | Block seminar (Studium Oecologicum) | Marius Albiez, Andri König | SuSe 2017
"Bildung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung in der Schule" | Seminar (Lehramt Chemie, Physik, Biologie, NwT) | Marius Albiez, Prof. Peter Grabmayr, Andri König | SuSe 2017


The "Energy laboratory Tübingen " at the Children's University Researchers' Day

Where does our electricity come from and what do we need it for? In order to get to the bottom of these questions together with children, the IZEW participated in this year's Children's University Researchers' Day, which took place on February 7, 2016 in the premises of the University of Tübingen. Children between the ages of seven and eleven went on a scientific expedition together with Andri König and Marius Albiez: Within the framework of a thought experiment, the participants discussed what it would be like to live in the Middle Ages and get by without electricity for one day. Further electricity experiments included the simulation of a thunderstorm using balloons, flour and a pin as well as the construction of a solar updraft power plant.

The event is part of the educational activities in the "Energy Laboratory Tübingen", where a sustainable energy turnaround is to be designed together with citizens. Education for Sustainable Development is not seen as a one-way street. The ideas discussed with the young scientists will be scientifically evaluated and should help to provide impulses and insights for further project work.

Courses in winter semester 2016/2017

"Understanding, Shaping and Teaching Sustainable Development | Seminar (Teaching/ Bachelor of Education) | Marius Albiez, Prof. Peter Grabmayr, Andri König, Prof. Thomas Potthast | WiSe 2016/2017

ASA-Project internship “Shaping Sustainable Energy Supply in a Global Context”

The global dimension of sustainable development was particularly highlighted by two ASA exchange projects in the field of nature and sustainable development research. In cooperation with the Department of Philosophy of Addis Ababa University (AAU), these projects were realized by the Competence Center for Sustainable Development (KNE) and the Energy Laboratory Tübingen. A total of nine students from Ethiopian and German universities participated in these projects, supported by Engagement Global gGmbH, an initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The first challenge of the ASA university cooperation with the KNE was met before the start of the project. Originally, only scholarships for students from German universities were planned. The Innovation Fund for Sustainable Development (KNE) at the University of Tübingen has made scholarships available for Ethiopian students in order to get closer to an exchange at eye level. In this way, the perspective of the global South in Tübingen could be integrated into the project locally, which was perceived as enriching by all participants. Engagement Global also welcomed this approach, so that in the course of the second exchange scholarships for North and South participants were made available from the very beginning.
As part of the first exchange programme, the ASA scholarship holders researched the skills students need to successfully act as multipliers for sustainable development at their universities. Participants were to develop a capacity-building programme that can be carried out at the universities of Tübingen and Addis Ababa. For this purpose, the ASA scholarship holders examined both the structure of both universities and the possibilities for student engagement and conducted interviews with student initiatives. The results make it clear which types of resources and know-how students need in order to be able to act as multipliers in their respective universities.

The second exchange was led by the question of whether and how a sustainable energy transition could be strengthened both in Addis Ababa and in Tübingen and where the differences between the two cities lie. The aim of the participants was to identify sustainability-relevant challenges in North and South and, against this background, to develop proposals for a sustainable energy supply in Addis Ababa. During the three-month northern phase, the energy laboratory acted as the pivot and focal point. The ASA scholarship holders participated as co-teachers in the seminar "Sustainable Energy Supply at Addis Ababa and Tuebingen" and exchanged ideas with project partners of the energy laboratory. In addition, they attended events on development cooperation and energy transition within and outside Germany, where they were in demand as discussion partners.

Looking back, it can be said that the two exchange programmes provided important insights which have an impact on our research work beyond their duration. This is particularly true with regard to the global dimension of sustainable development: the projects made it possible to reflect on and discuss various ideas of justice and morality. Particularly impressive were the different perceptions of human-nature relationships. In addition, the exchange made the different socio-technical conditions on site tangible. Ultimately, the activities contribute to continuing and expanding the international networking at the Ethics Centre. Workineh Kelbessa, professor at the AAU, visited the Centre at the beginning of 2018 with a public lecture on "Sustainable Development in Africa: Challenges and Prospects", supplemented by in-depth discussions with Tübingen students in the course of lectures on environmental ethics and sustainable development.

This text was published in Albiez, Marius; Herth, Carla; König, Andri; Potthast, Thomas: Zwischen Addis Ababa und Tübingen. Sustainable development on two continents. In: International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW) (Ed.): Annual Report 2017, pp. 15-17.


Book contribution

Albiez, Marius; König, Andri; Potthast, Thomas (2018): Transdisziplinarität und Bildung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung in der Lehre an der Universität Tübingen: Konzeptionelle Fragen mit Bezug auf Lehraktivitäten des „Energielabors Tübingen“. In: Walter Leal Filho (Hg.): Nachhaltigkeit in der Lehre. Eine Herausforderung für Hochschulen. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Theorie und Praxis der Nachhaltigkeit), S. 189–206.

Journal article

Albiez, Marius; König, Andri; Potthast, Thomas (2016): Bildung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung in Reallaboren. Die bildungsbezogenen Angebote des „Energielabors Tübingen“ in der Kinder-Uni Tübingen. In: Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 25 (3), S. 41–45. Available online at, last checked on December 21, 2016.