Germany: Postdoc and PhD positions in energy systems modeling at The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

The climate needs bright minds. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) addresses crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development. It is one of the world's leading research institutions in its field and offers natural and social scientists from around the world an inspiring environment for excellent interdisciplinary research.

If you enjoy working in a very collaborative, supportive and international team, you love writing and improving code, you like analytical thinking and constructive problem-solving, and you want to contribute to tackling one of the big challenges of our time – then you may want to apply to one of the positions in our team:

PIK is offeringPostdoc and PhD positions in energy systems modeling (m/f/d) (Position number: 27-2020-Postdoc and PhD position)

starting on 15 September 2020.

The positions are funded until 31 May 2023 (with possible extension). Remuneration is in accordance with the German public tariff scheme (TV-L Brandenburg), salary group E 13 This is a full-time position with a weekly working time of 40 hours per week. PhD positions are funded with a 65% share of the total E13 salary. The positions can be filled on a part-time basis.

We will be working together in projects on exploring sustainable energy system transformations in the context of the German Energiewende and global efforts to halt climate change. The results of this work feed into global assessments like the ones conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as European and German level policy advice. You will co-develop with us the REMIND model, one of the world's leading integrated energy-economy climate modelling systems. We are offering the following three position profiles (PostDoc or PhD, based on qualification and the selection process):

  • Model-based analysis of energy transition pathways: The German Energiewende is entering the next phase. To achieve the goal of economy-wide climate neutrality, not only power supply but also non-electric energy demands in the transport, buildings, and industry sectors need to be decarbonized. There are multiple technology and policy approaches to achieve the transition to climate neutrality. For instance, some pathways pursue a deep electrification of most end uses, while others rely on increasingly large-scale imports of renewable hydrogen. You will refine and apply energy-economy climate modelling approaches to study these different pathways and to assess their effectiveness and implications, e.g. with respect to economic consequences or environmental side-effects.

  • Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR): The focus of this position is on the active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, with the aim to offset residual emissions. Such technologies can help to reduce emissions faster, achieve emissions neutrality, or even remove more carbon than is emitted and thus achieve a reversion of climate change. You will analyze the climate change mitigation potential of this option as well as potential opportunities, risks and barriers. A question of special interest is the relative share of mitigation and offset of emission via CDR to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality. How would different pathways look like, and what are their comparative advantages and disadvantages?

  • Buildings: Energy demands in residential and commercial buildings, in particular for space heating, are a crucial bottleneck towards emissions neutrality, accounting for about 12% of energy related CO2 emissions in Germany. Based on earlier work, you will refine the representation of technology approaches to decarbonize buildings space heating in Germany and Europe, e.g., via expansion of district heating networks, heat pump system and accelerated refurbishments of buildings shells. Central research questions will be about suitable policy approaches and their implications, e.g. in terms of distributional impacts.

Key responsibilities:

  • Contributions to the development of the integrated assessment modeling frameworks REMIND, in particular its version REMIND-EU for the analysis of energy transition pathways for Germany and Europe

  • Literature review of relevant processes, technologies, and climate policy approaches in the respective fields

  • Implementation of these technologies and policies in the integrated assessment model REMIND

  • Model-based analysis of various technology and policy solutions

  • Presentation of results at international conferences

  • Publication of results in scientific journals


  • Master's Degree or PhD in Physics, Engineering, Economics, Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, System Sciences or a related field

  • Training in formal, quantitative methods, excellent analytical skills

  • Interest in research software engineering, programming experience (e.g. R or GAMS)

  • Active interest in energy systems analysis and climate change mitigation

  • Strong motivation and good organizational skills

  • Team-orientation and strong communication skills in English. The working language at PIK is English.

We offer:

  • An inspiring, international and interdisciplinary work environment in one of the world's leading research institutes on climate change mitigation and energy systems transformation

  • High-impact research: PIK researchers publish in renowned international journals, including Nature, Science, or PNAS

  • Participation in solution-oriented research in projects with several German and international partners and with immediate policy relevance and impact on international assessments such as IPCC reports

  • Opportunities for cooperation with PIK's national and international network of leading climate & energy research institutes and think tanks

  • Insights and experience in strategic research management and stakeholder consultation and advice

  • A structured PhD programme with supervision agreements, a supervision team, reporting obligations, a career development plan, a mediator team and an interdisciplinary education programme

  • Career development opportunities for PostDocs, e.g. via the Humboldt Graduate School.

PIK seeks to increase the share of women in scientific positions and there­fore explicitly encourages women to apply. In cases of equal quali­fication and within the given legal scope, women will be given preference. Applications by persons with a migration background are expressly encouraged. Applications of disabled persons with equal qualifications will be regarded favourably. PIK also encourages applications by parents returning from parental leave.

Please apply by 02 August 2020 (applications submitted after this date will be accepted until the position is filled) directly using our application form. Uploaded application documents need to comprise a letter of motivation, including research interests and referring to one or more of the position profiles listed above, a CV with the contact details of two referees, transcripts of university results and a sample of your work (e.g. term paper, thesis or journal publication, GitHub profile, online publication profile or similar).