The Cascade Institute’s Energy Systems program applies research and analysis to accelerate the energy transition, with a focus on harnessing non-linear change in technological and social systems to discover, develop, and promote solutions.

It is abundantly clear that there is not just one energy transition; multiple types of ongoing sustainability transitions are moving at different speeds across industries, sectors, and scales, and the nature and speed of the energy transition is the product of complex interactions between technical and social components of the energy system.

The Energy Systems program team pursues new research pathways, analyzes emerging data, and provides timely advice to frontline actors including policymakers, financial actors, and activists. This work explores the technological, institutional, and worldview components of energy systems to effectively guide R&D, investment, and implementation of key energy technologies.

“We have an obligation to better understand systemic barriers to scaling up energy transitions, and the complexity of the societal, political, economic, and environmental dynamics involved.”

- Cascade Institute Executive Director, Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon

The Energy Systems team focuses on three topics:

  1. Scaling up and accelerating energy system innovations.
  2. Accelerating R&D and implementation of geothermal energy systems, , with a focus on reducing costs and accelerating the commercialization of Ultradeep Geothermal systems
  3. Shifting entrenched and polarized beliefs around energy systems innovation, climate policy, and reconciliation.

The EST team is a part of Accelerating Community Energy Transformation (ACET) (supported by the Canada First Excellence Research Fund), a multi-partner research initiative helping small- to-mid-sized communities achieve their unique clean-energy systems goals. The Cascade Institute supports additional research and analysis focused on complex systems understanding of community energy transitions, worldviews of energy transformation and scaling up community-level energy system innovations to the national and global scale.