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Sustainability 2012, 4(2), 193-209; doi:10.3390/su4020193

Towards a Sustainable Spatial Organization of the Energy System: Backcasting Experiences from Austria

1,* , 1
1 Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Strohgasse 45/5, 1030 Vienna, Austria 2 Inter-University Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture, Schlögelgasse 2, 8010 Graz, Austria 3 Austrian Institute of Technology, Donau-City-Straße 1, 1220 Vienna, Austria
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 December 2011 / Revised: 19 January 2012 / Accepted: 29 January 2012 / Published: 2 February 2012
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The transition to a sustainable energy system faces more challenges than a simple replacement of fossil energy sources by renewable ones. Since current structures do not favor sustainable energy generation and use, it is indispensable to change the existing infrastructure. A fundamental change of the energy system also requires re-organizing spatial structures and their respective institutions and governance structures. Especially in Austria, urban sprawl and unsustainable settlement structures are regarded as one of the main developments leading to increased energy demand. One of the aims within the project E-Trans 2050 was to identify socio-economic constellations that are central to the further transformation of the energy system and to focus on actors and their socio-technical framework conditions. Based on a sustainable future vision for the year 2050 a backcasting workshop was conducted to identify necessary steps for the envisaged transition to a more sustainable energy system. The results shed light on the necessary changes for a transformation towards sustainability in the specific Austrian situation. Critical issues are region-specific production of energy and its use, settlement and regional structures and values and role models, which all have a determining influence on energy demand. Combining the knowledge of extensive energy use with available energy resources in spatial planning decisions is a main challenge towards a long term sustainable energy system.
Keywords: sustainable energy system; spatial organization; backcasting; energy transition sustainable energy system; spatial organization; backcasting; energy transition
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Wächter, P.; Ornetzeder, M.; Rohracher, H.; Schreuer, A.; Knoflacher, M. Towards a Sustainable Spatial Organization of the Energy System: Backcasting Experiences from Austria. Sustainability 2012, 4, 193-209.

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