International Journal of Energy Research, Vol.45, No.1, 745-758, 2021
Nothing to regret: Reconciling renewable energies with human wellbeing and nature in the German Energy Transition
Although the transition to energy supply through renewables (RE) is, in general, politically accepted in Germany, its progress is slowed by conflicting interests, primarily nature conservation and protesting residents. This study aims to find ways to solve these conflicts in Germany. To this end, the researchers developed a geospatial model that calculates RE potentials and vulnerabilities of nature and humans. Both data input and some evaluation standards are variables in the model. The outcomes are compared to an estimated total energy demand in 2050. Two ambitious scenarios ("no regret" and "compromise") show that a maximum of 4% of the German territory is available to meet the energy demand. This demand can be met using PV in urban areas and wind in rural landscapes without significantly impairing nature's and people's wellbeing. Solar parks and other potentials not considered in the model are treated as a reserve, which can be included if the energy targets are not met under the assumed scenario conditions. Such reserves also provide flexibility for co-determination in public participation.