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Integrated sustainability assessment and optimisation of energy systems (InNOSys)

Current political debates on sustainable developments of energy systems are often limited to achieving climate change targets while simultaneously ensuring acceptable financial impacts on citizens and the industry. This emphasis neglects a variety of sustainability aspects, including resource requirements, emissions resulting in the course of technologies’ life circles, but also the societal acceptance of technologies and infrastructure systems. A government’s national strategy, however, needs to take this broad spectrum of sustainable development into account.

The main objective of InNOSys is to develop integrated modelling and evaluation contexts, in which energy scenarios and their possible technological pathways are analysed, evaluated and optimised with respect to ecologic, economic and social sustainability indicators. ZIRIUS, in cooperation with the partners DLR, GWS, INATECH, INEC and ITAS, work towards the following project goals:
  • Development of an interdisciplinary, integrative, methodological framework for sustainability assessments of energy scenarios by linking models and methods of the project partners with respect to ecologic, economic and social sustainability assessments.
  • Analysis, comparative assessment and optimisation of energy scenarios for Germany with respect to the aforementioned sustainability indicators.
  • Identification and analysis of trade-offs and synergies between sustainability indicators relevant for the sustainable transformation of the energy system; drawing policy-relevant conclusions.
Following the objective to develop an interdisciplinary approach to assess and ‘optimize` scenarios with respect to sustainability, ZIRIUS conducts qualitative and quantitative social science research. To analyse the societal assessment of sustainability aspects of scenarios, individual technologies, which feature prominently in the scenarios, are analysed according to their sustainability and are discussed within focus groups. For this purpose, ZIRIUS develops technology fact sheets with reference to data from the Life-Cycle-Assessment (LCA) provided by the project partners. In the course of the focus groups, the discussion is expanded to a comparative assessment of sustainability aspects of scenarios, using a conjoint analysis.

The empirical data-sets from the focus groups and the conjoint analysis combined then serve as social science perspective on the acceptance of technologies and technology-combinations; they are integrated into the framework for systematic sustainability assessment of scenarios and allow for drawing conclusions and guidance for science, politics, and society.

Funding: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
Project duration: January 2018 – December 2020
Staff: Ricarda Scheele, M.Sc.
Oliver Scheel, M.A.
Contact: Ricarda Scheele, M.Sc.