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Topic "Renewable Energy and Material Resources for Sustainable Futures – Integrating at Different Scales"

Foto: Dörte Ohlhorst

The sustainable use of limited resources is one of the greatest challenges of global change. There is general agreement that significant changes are necessary to preserve the resource base, but the issue of the specific nature of these changes requires knowledge-based strategies that take into consideration the technological, ecological, economic, sociocultural, political, and industrial circumstances, as well as cultural ideas and the different scales for their implementation. Topic “Renewable Energy and Material Resources for Sustainable Futures: Integrating at Different Scales” analyses these aspects for the field of renewable resources, both for their material and energetic use. Its goal is to develop strategies adjusted to the process of transition from fossil to renewable resources and to include various supply systems and forms of infrastructure in its considerations. Special challenges result from the temporal and spatial distribution of the renewable resources, such as through the supply-dependent nature of the availability of energy from sun and wind, the changes in land use potentially accompanying this availability, and the social issues of distribution between urban and rural areas. A prominent example is a power supply that is increasingly based on renewable energy carriers.

The topic accordingly pursues the development of options for the sustainable use of renewable resources on different scales:

  • How relevant are which of the renewable resources under different conditions?
  • Which indicators of sustainability are significant on which scales and across different scales?
  • Which conflicting goals exist and how can we deal with them?
  • Which instruments, measures, and governance structures are needed to manage the sustainable production and use of renewable resources across different scales?

These questions are addressed in two subtopics, which examine more closely the integration of renewable energy carriers, the development of adjusted bioeconomic strategies as well as urban and rural environments and the related material flows. The subtopics are linked to one another through the comprehensive integrated approach to research of a contextual problem-oriented strategy, through adjusted methods of analysis and assessment, and through the scientific approach to complex issues of governance.