Study to close gaps in renewables research

July 23, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Study to close gaps in renewables research
Germany plans to switch to an electricity supply entirely based on renewables by the year 2050. Now, a research project in Germany’s state of Lower Saxony has been launched that will contribute to this goal in that it closes the systematic gaps of existing studies. For the first time, such a study is taking into account the aspect of sustainability.

Most existing studies on the optimisation of renewable energy generation and distribution focused primarily on the goal of lowering the cost and disregarded the aspect of sustainability. Others took into account only selected grid segments or were related to specific usage models or power generation techniques. Furthermore, there are global model approaches highlighting greenhouse gas emissions und deal with the distribution aspects related to the switchover from conventional to renewable power sources. The NEDS project (NEDS stands for Nachhaltige Energieversorgung Niedersachsen or Sustainable Energy Supply Lower Saxony) has set itself the task of closing the knowledge gaps and examine the parameters with view of the circumstances in Lower Saxony. Due to the size of the state – slightly bigger than the Netherlands – the findings can be applied to some extend to other geographies.

To obtain a dependable, safe and technically viable power supply system, scientists involved in the project define and analyse multiple sustainability criteria. The project therefore follows a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach and uses a broad sustainability concept that ranges from technology aspects to psychological questions like acceptance. In any case, it emphasizes the protection of nature and environment as well as socio-economic circumstances.

The concept also takes into account the needs of today’s population as well as future generations until the year 2050. “I am very pleased that we have the possibility to explore and examine a sustainability-optimised energy supply system that takes the technological feasibility into account”, said professor Lutz Hofmann from the Leibniz University of Hannover who acts as the spokesperson of the NEDS project.

“The project is so important because it does not only focus on the technological change but also includes the necessary socio-ecological change of the Lower Saxonian energy system”, added professor Niko Paech from the University of Oldenburg. With the methods of multi-criteria decision support we can review very different technologies under the aspect of various objectives, enabling decision makers to


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