HEAT awarded KNAW-grant

The Huygens Institute’s Historical Energy Transitions and AI Applications (HEAT) research project receives funding of €249,000 from the KNAW Institutes Research Fund. With this project, the Huygens Institute aims to contribute to historical research on climate change, energy and societal transitions.

For a successful transition, social, political and cultural dimensions are essential. Understanding and recognising these is therefore essential in the enormous challenge of generating and using green energy, adapting our consumption patterns, and changing how we interact with nature and with each other. A positive and productive action perspective helps to address these challenges. A better understanding of past energy transitions gives us such perspectives.

This project uses existing AI language models to automatically annotate large amounts of historical sources on the concept of ‘energy’. It starts from the Huygens Institute’s source collections, with the intention of scaling up thereafter. With the results of this project, the history of energy transitions of the Netherlands can be shaped on a large scale in a short period of time.

HEAT is the result of the KNAW Humanities Cluster’s initiative to also collaborate in the field of Environmental Humanities. Both the International Institute of Social History and the Meertens Institute had one project awarded as well, respectively ‘Energy transition and public support: the anti-nuclear movement as a historical case study’ and ‘Botanical records through a social lens: exploring bias and perception in historical citizen science’. In that last research project the Meertens Institute will collaborate with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

All these initiatives came about partly in response to the Climate Research Initiative Netherlands (KIN) of NWO and KNAW.