Design creates knowledge – A system-model of the German power industry

TU Berlin - Fachbereich Energiesysteme
Borderstep Institut
Stromnetz Berlin GmbH

Funded by

Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi),

With the publication "Strom, Netz, Fluss - Ein Atlas unserer Stromwelt und ihrer Wandels" (Power, Grid, Flow – An Atlas of our Electricity World and its Change), we show how design principles can be used to generate scientific knowledge.
Systems Modeling, Moderation of co-creative processes,
Science Communication,
Content creation,
Book design
For years, several of our partner organizations in the field of renewable energies have been asking for a map that depicts the complex interrelationships and dependencies within the German power industry in a simple way. The opportunity for realization occured within an initiative project of Ellery Studio and WindNODE. At the same time, the opportunity arose to convey solid basic knowledge about the opportunities and challenges of the energy transition in an accompanying publication. We were inspired by the didactic ease and charm of a youth non-fiction series that has influenced not only our infographics team, but entire generations of history and technology enthusiasts: the 'Was ist Was' series from Tessloff Verlag.
Ellery Studio has extensive experience in strategic system and process modeling, concept mapping, and cartography. However, capturing a highly complex system model of an entire business sector requires distributed intelligence, similar to a multi-agent system. In the collaborative project together with WindNODE, more than 70 organizations conducted research from 2017 to 2020 on transferable model solutions for the smart energy system of the future. The consortium represented a cross-section of the German power industry, from generators, consumers, electricity traders, suppliers, technology developers to regulators: an optimal starting point for mapping all relevant actors in the electricity world and their interactions. The result was a multidisciplinary, 30-member panel of experts who, under the guidance of Ellery Studio, developed and validated a comprehensive system model co-creatively, incrementally, and aligned with scientific standards over a six-month period.

Ellery Studio planned and facilitated participatory workshops, translated the resulting system models into visualizations, managed the further content creation process and supported the authors of the accompanying publication in the user-centered preparation of complex issues.
Process steps

Co-creative workshops for system modeling with representatives of all stakeholder groups

Process design and facilitation

Editorial management of a 22-member team of authors for further content on the topic of "The Electricity World and its Change"

Validation of the resulting actor layer model through individual peer review processes

Layout of the publication "Strom, Netz, Fluss" and its numerous infographics

Publishing activities, press relations, roadshow

In a co-creative joint effort, "Strom, Netz, Fluss - Ein Atlas unserer Stromwelt und ihres Wandels" (Power, Grid, Flow – An Atlas of our Electricity World and its Change) was created to make our energy world understandable to a broad audience. We have combined energy industry expertise with infographic-aesthetic competence. The result is an attractively illustrated energy transition textbook that reaches an open-minded and interested lay audience, but is also useful as introductory reading for students or young professionals in the energy industry. The focus of the publication, however, is the actor-layer model, which from now on will be available as a navigation aid for all interdisciplinary concerns of the energy industry.
Live Stream
Recording of our digital book release
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