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Special Issue "Changing the Energy System to Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency (RESS) - Selected Papers from the RESS Conference, 15-16 September 2011, Freiburg, Germany"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2011)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Chantal Ruppert-Winkel (Website)

Zentrum für Erneuerbare Energien, Tennenbacherstraße 4, D-79106 Freiburg i. Br., Germany
Fax: +49 (07 61) 2 03- 3890
Guest Editor
Jürgen Stefan Hauber (Website)

Zentrum für Erneuerbare Energien, Tennenbacherstraße 4, D-79106 Freiburg i. Br., Germany
Phone: +49 (07 61) 2 03- 37 95
Fax: +49 (07 61) 2 03- 3690

Special Issue Information

This special issue publishes selected papers from the RESS Conference to be held on 15-16 September 2011 in Freiburg, Germany. The candidate papers for the special issue will be selected either by the conference chair and/or by the chairs of the individual sessions of the conference. The RESS Conference has kindly agreed to cover the Article Processing Charges (APC) for all manuscripts.

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Changing the Energy System towards Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency—Towards a multi-perspective and Interdisciplinary Framework
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2822-2831; doi:10.3390/su6052822
Received: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 6 May 2014 / Published: 13 May 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (668 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The transformation of the present energy system into a sustainable one is discussed worldwide. This is also mirrored in a vivid debate in the scientific literature [1–3]. Self-sufficiency attained with the help of electricity, heat, and fuel from renewable energy (RE) in [...] Read more.
The transformation of the present energy system into a sustainable one is discussed worldwide. This is also mirrored in a vivid debate in the scientific literature [1–3]. Self-sufficiency attained with the help of electricity, heat, and fuel from renewable energy (RE) in combination with energy saving is seen as one way to establish a sustainable energy system, e.g., [4,5]. Many communities and regions in different countries are facing the challenge of such a transformation of their energy system, and have taken up the objective of achieving energy self-sufficiency through the use of renewables [4,6–8]. [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Understanding the Social Dynamics of Energy Regions—The Importance of Discourse Analysis
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1256-1273; doi:10.3390/su4061256
Received: 30 April 2012 / Revised: 18 May 2012 / Accepted: 23 May 2012 / Published: 15 June 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1306 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Regional initiatives pursuing self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energy sources (RESS-initiatives) aim at contributing to broader transitions towards more sustainable energy systems. As such, they have raised high expectations among local activists and are increasingly supported by diverse funding schemes such [...] Read more.
Regional initiatives pursuing self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energy sources (RESS-initiatives) aim at contributing to broader transitions towards more sustainable energy systems. As such, they have raised high expectations among local activists and are increasingly supported by diverse funding schemes such as national programs. How can the social dynamics entangled in these initiatives be understood and assessed? A discourse analytical perspective, such as the Argumentative Discourse Analysis developed by Hajer, can bring valuable insights in this regard. This approach highlights the formation of discourse coalitions and processes of discourse structuration and institutionalization. In order to illustrate my conceptual and methodological considerations, I present an analysis of discursive dynamics observed in the alpine district of Murau, Austria, where the vision of reaching ‘energy autarky’ by the year 2015 has influenced regional development plans since 2003. The chosen discourse analytical approach has been very helpful in guiding the analysis of this case. Specific local conditions can explain why certain visions gained discursive hegemony. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Integration of Energy Conservation into the Political Goal of Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency—A German Case Study Based on a Longitudinal Reconstruction
Sustainability 2012, 4(5), 888-916; doi:10.3390/su4050888
Received: 10 March 2012 / Revised: 14 April 2012 / Accepted: 17 April 2012 / Published: 4 May 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (365 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many local governments in Germany aim to reach Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency (RESS) in their municipalities. In this context, ambitious time horizons for reaching this goal make it necessary to address the question of how less absolute energy can be consumed. The topic [...] Read more.
Many local governments in Germany aim to reach Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency (RESS) in their municipalities. In this context, ambitious time horizons for reaching this goal make it necessary to address the question of how less absolute energy can be consumed. The topic of energy conservation in scientific literature is very controversially discussed and in fact it is not clear which measures in the long term contribute to real reductions in energy demand. Therefore, in this paper, we do not determine how energy conservation should be achieved. Instead, we reconstruct, through an inductive longitudinal study, why energy conservation was integrated into the general principles of a municipality that wished to reach “RESS” by the year 2020 and considerably reduce energy demand. At the same time, we looked at the question of how energy conservation was conceptualized by local actors and which strategies, instruments, and activities were used to reach the goal. We found that environmentally concerned citizens brought the idea of energy conservation into the political arena. However, it was not until energy prices rose, regulations developed on a national level, subsidies for energy conservation emerged, and actions addressing the issue were seen by many local actors as adding value to the unique character the municipality gained by their RESS activities, that the actual subject was considered relevant in the municipality. Full article
Open AccessArticle Municipal Added Value through Solar Power Systems in the City of Freiburg
Sustainability 2012, 4(5), 819-839; doi:10.3390/su4050819
Received: 29 February 2012 / Revised: 5 April 2012 / Accepted: 5 April 2012 / Published: 2 May 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (315 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The transformation of the conventional energy system towards renewable energies has entailed an increasing decentralization of energy generation in Germany, as the production units are smaller and draw on regional potentials. This can result in positive socio-economic effects in regions where the [...] Read more.
The transformation of the conventional energy system towards renewable energies has entailed an increasing decentralization of energy generation in Germany, as the production units are smaller and draw on regional potentials. This can result in positive socio-economic effects in regions where the potential is exploited. The focus of this paper lies on evaluating existing methods and developing new ones, which can be used to determine local added value through renewable energy systems. The methods were required to cover direct as well as induced municipal added value effects and to include all steps of the examined value chain. A combination of methods was tested in a case study for the solar power system value chain in the city of Freiburg (ca. 220,000 inhabitants). The added value through this sector in the year 2009 was calculated at 30.8 million euros through direct effects and 6.2 million euros through induced effects. This total municipal added value of 37 million euros can be converted into roughly 1,500 jobs within the city boundaries. Based on some conservative assumptions, these numbers should be considered as minimum values. Full article
Open AccessArticle Partnering with the Pinoleville Pomo Nation: Co-Design Methodology Case Study for Creating Sustainable, Culturally Inspired Renewable Energy Systems and Infrastructure
Sustainability 2012, 4(5), 794-818; doi:10.3390/su4050794
Received: 28 March 2012 / Revised: 11 April 2012 / Accepted: 12 April 2012 / Published: 25 April 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (3162 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper describes the co-design methodology created by the authors to partner with communities that have historical trauma associated with working with outsiders on projects that involved substantial use of engineering and science—renewable energy technologies, for example—that have not integrated their value [...] Read more.
This paper describes the co-design methodology created by the authors to partner with communities that have historical trauma associated with working with outsiders on projects that involved substantial use of engineering and science—renewable energy technologies, for example—that have not integrated their value system or has been historically denied to them. As a case study, we present the lessons learned from a partnership with the Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN) of Ukiah, CA and UC Berkeley’s Community Assessment of Renewable Energy and Sustainability (CARES) team to develop sustainable housing that utilizes sustainability best practices and renewable energy technology as well as reflect the long-standing culture and traditions of the PPN. We also present the Pomo-inspired housing design created by this partnership and illustrate how Native American nations can partner with universities and other academic organizations to utilize engineering expertise to co-design solutions that address the needs of the tribes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Biogas Production Potential from Economically Usable Green Waste
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 682-702; doi:10.3390/su4040682
Received: 16 February 2012 / Revised: 2 April 2012 / Accepted: 6 April 2012 / Published: 18 April 2012
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (176 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biomass production for energy purposes on agricultural land competes with food production. This is a serious problem, considering the limited availability of farmland, rising demand for varied food products, demand for more organic crop production resulting in considerably reduced yields per area [...] Read more.
Biomass production for energy purposes on agricultural land competes with food production. This is a serious problem, considering the limited availability of farmland, rising demand for varied food products, demand for more organic crop production resulting in considerably reduced yields per area and the need for more environmentally sound agricultural practices meeting long-term sustainability criteria. Residual land currently not used for agricultural production has been considered a promising resource, but in terms of potentials, difficult to estimate for biomass for use in the energy sector. Biomass potentials associated with “green waste” from residual grasslands were assessed for Schwäbisch Hall County in the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Roadside edges, conservation grasslands subject to low intensity use (landscape maintenance sites), riparian stretches along ditches and streams, and municipal green spaces (public lawns, parks and sports fields) were the area types considered. Data for biomass and biogas yields were either determined through a sampling program or obtained from the literature and through interviews with experts. In an iterative process and distinguishing between theoretical, technical and realized (economic) potentials, unsuitable areas and fractions were subtracted from the theoretical potentials. Theoretical potentials for Schwäbisch Hall County were originally estimated at 21 million m3 of biogas. The results of the investigation suggest that a very high percentage of the theoretical residual biomass potential cannot be accessed due to various technical, legal, ecological or management (economic) constraints. In fact, in the end, only municipal lawns and green spaces were found to provide suitable substrates. Current use of residual biomass in the model communities did not exceed 0.4% of the theoretical potentials. Provided all residual biomass available under current management practices could be accessed, this would amount to 6.1% of the theoretical maximum potentials. Full article
Open AccessArticle Transdisciplinary Evaluation of Energy Scenarios for a German Village Using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 604-629; doi:10.3390/su4040604
Received: 6 March 2012 / Revised: 27 March 2012 / Accepted: 28 March 2012 / Published: 11 April 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (618 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) can assist local decision processes towards selecting renewable energy systems as it is able to manage qualitative data and offers opportunities to integrate knowledge from local stakeholders. However, little experience is available regarding practical applications of MCDA in [...] Read more.
Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) can assist local decision processes towards selecting renewable energy systems as it is able to manage qualitative data and offers opportunities to integrate knowledge from local stakeholders. However, little experience is available regarding practical applications of MCDA in real decision processes in communities on their path towards a renewable energy supply. Within the “Bioenergy-Region Ludwigsfelde” project, an MCDA evaluation has been applied to a small village on its way to becoming a “bioenergy village”. Here, MCDA has been combined with already established tools accompanying the process to becoming a “bioenergy village”, such as planning workshops, citizens’ meetings and best-practice trips. A comprehensive set of sustainability criteria was applied aimed at addressing the questions of local actors. An emphasis was placed on social criteria that comprise the perceived values of local impacts. In general, it was observed that MCDA provides many benefits for this application context. In particular, the group weighting using the SIMOS method demonstrated good results in the process. However, for real-world applications of MCDA, the challenge of data compilation in particular must be addressed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Moving towards Energy Self-Sufficiency Based on Renewables: Comparative Case Studies on the Emergence of Regional Processes of Socio-Technical Change in Germany
Sustainability 2012, 4(4), 491-530; doi:10.3390/su4040491
Received: 28 February 2012 / Revised: 12 March 2012 / Accepted: 26 March 2012 / Published: 28 March 2012
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (503 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The change of conventional energy systems to a system mainly based on renewable energies is occurring in many parts of the world. A processual analysis of three case studies from regions in Germany that are moving towards renewable energy self-sufficiency were conducted [...] Read more.
The change of conventional energy systems to a system mainly based on renewable energies is occurring in many parts of the world. A processual analysis of three case studies from regions in Germany that are moving towards renewable energy self-sufficiency were conducted in order to better understand this process of socio-technical change. This paper scrutinizes the role of actors and their activities, which are driving the change of the local energy system. Three discrete distinguishable phases of this change were found: pioneer phase, pivotal network phase, and extended network and emerging market dynamic phase. Each phase can be characterized by the type of actor, their specific activities, artifacts involved, and their underlying motives. We suggest using the phase model as a heuristic instrument to identify the elements which shape socio-technical change. Full article
Open AccessArticle Introducing Modern Energy Services into Developing Countries: The Role of Local Community Socio-Economic Structures
Sustainability 2012, 4(3), 341-358; doi:10.3390/su4030341
Received: 30 November 2011 / Revised: 15 February 2012 / Accepted: 22 February 2012 / Published: 5 March 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (311 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable energy technologies are widely sought-after as essential elements in facing global challenges such as energy security, global warming and poverty reduction. However, in spite of their promising advantages, sustainable energy technologies make only a marginal contribution to meeting energy related needs [...] Read more.
Sustainable energy technologies are widely sought-after as essential elements in facing global challenges such as energy security, global warming and poverty reduction. However, in spite of their promising advantages, sustainable energy technologies make only a marginal contribution to meeting energy related needs in both industrialised and developing countries, in comparison to the widespread use of unsustainable technologies. One of the most significant constraints to their adoption and broad diffusion is the socio-economic context in which sustainable energy technologies are supposed to operate. The same holds true for community-based energy projects in developing countries supported by the WISIONS initiative. Practical strategies dealing with these socio-economic challenges are crucial elements for project design and, particularly, for the implementation of project activities. In this paper experiences from implementing community-based projects are reviewed in order to identify the practical elements that are relevant to overcome socio-economic challenges. In order to systematise the findings, an analytical framework is proposed, which combines analytical tools from the socio-technical transition framework and insights from participative approaches to development. Full article
Open AccessArticle Linking Energy- and Land-Use Systems: Energy Potentials and Environmental Risks of Using Agricultural Residues in Tanzania
Sustainability 2012, 4(3), 278-293; doi:10.3390/su4030278
Received: 16 January 2012 / Revised: 30 January 2012 / Accepted: 16 February 2012 / Published: 27 February 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (358 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper attempts to assess whether renewable energy self-sufficiency can be achieved in the crop production and processing sector in Tanzania and if this could be accomplished in an environmentally sustainable manner. In order to answer these questions the theoretical energy potential [...] Read more.
This paper attempts to assess whether renewable energy self-sufficiency can be achieved in the crop production and processing sector in Tanzania and if this could be accomplished in an environmentally sustainable manner. In order to answer these questions the theoretical energy potential of process residues from commercially produced agricultural crops in Tanzania is evaluated. Furthermore, a set of sustainability indicators with focus on environmental criteria is applied to identify risks and opportunities of using these residues for energy generation. In particular, the positive and negative effects on the land-use-system (soil fertility, water use and quality, biodiversity, etc.) are evaluated. The results show that energy generation with certain agricultural process residues could not only improve and secure the energy supply but could also improve the sustainability of current land-use practices. Full article
Open AccessArticle Bioenergy Villages and Regions in Germany: An Interview Study with Initiators of Communal Bioenergy Projects on the Success Factors for Restructuring the Energy Supply of the Community
Sustainability 2012, 4(2), 244-256; doi:10.3390/su4020244
Received: 25 November 2011 / Revised: 6 January 2012 / Accepted: 2 February 2012 / Published: 9 February 2012
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Because of the serious problems related to an energy supply based mainly on fossil and nuclear fuels, the development of renewable energy sources is urgently needed. In Germany, many villages and communities take energy production into their own hands, following the principle [...] Read more.
Because of the serious problems related to an energy supply based mainly on fossil and nuclear fuels, the development of renewable energy sources is urgently needed. In Germany, many villages and communities take energy production into their own hands, following the principle of a community-related energy supply. Today, approximately 50 villages or communities in Germany have restructured their energy consumption patterns to rely primarily on locally available renewable energy sources for their electricity and heat. This article describes a qualitative interview study concerning the success factors for the implementation of bioenergy villages. The interviews were conducted with 25 individuals who initiated the restructuring of energy production in their villages toward bioenergy and other renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind energy. Full article
Open AccessArticle Employment Effects of Renewable Energy Expansion on a Regional Level—First Results of a Model-Based Approach for Germany
Sustainability 2012, 4(2), 227-243; doi:10.3390/su4020227
Received: 2 December 2011 / Revised: 18 January 2012 / Accepted: 29 January 2012 / Published: 7 February 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (495 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
National studies have shown that both gross and net effects of the expansion of energy from renewable sources on employment are positive for Germany. These modeling approaches also revealed that this holds true for both present and future perspectives under certain assumptions [...] Read more.
National studies have shown that both gross and net effects of the expansion of energy from renewable sources on employment are positive for Germany. These modeling approaches also revealed that this holds true for both present and future perspectives under certain assumptions on the development of exports, fossil fuel prices and national politics. Yet how are employment effects distributed within Germany? What components contribute to growth impacts on a regional level? To answer these questions (new) methods of regionalization were explored and developed for the example “wind energy onshore” for Germany’s federal states. The main goal was to develop a methodology which is applicable to all renewable energy technologies in future research. For the quantification and projection, it was necessary to distinguish between jobs generated by domestic investments and exports on the one hand, and jobs for operation and maintenance of existing plants on the other hand. Further, direct and indirect employment is analyzed. The results show, that gross employment is particularly high in the northwestern regions of Germany. However, especially the indirect effects are spread out over the whole country. Regions in the south not only profit from the delivery of specific components, but also from other industry and service inputs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Towards a Sustainable Spatial Organization of the Energy System: Backcasting Experiences from Austria
Sustainability 2012, 4(2), 193-209; doi:10.3390/su4020193
Received: 23 December 2011 / Revised: 19 January 2012 / Accepted: 29 January 2012 / Published: 2 February 2012
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (207 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article

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