Headline: Blog

The IASS blog contains contributions from employees in all IASS departments and covers a huge range of themes. In addition to discussing the latest research findings and events, the blog authors comment on political developments.


Electricity Market Design: Will Demand React to Variations in Power Supply?

In the electricity sector, generation has always been driven by demand. But the Energiewende could turn this paradigm on its head. In what’s known as ‘demand response’, demand reacts to market signals and electricity consumption adapts to the level of generation from photovoltaic and wind energy. To give an example: on a winter’s evening German electricity consumption is very high, but there is no sunshine or wind. As a result, the so-called residual load – i.e. nationwide electricity consumption less generation from photovoltaic and wind energy – is also very high.

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Energy Transition in France: Following in Germany’s Footsteps?

Recently, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was equipped with two small vertical wind turbines, which, while they spawned many news articles, have a generation capacity that is rather symbolic. In the same week, the French Parliament debated and voted on an extensive new bill laying out the country’s plans for transforming its energy supply and curbing GHG emissions.

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Sustainable Fuels in the Nordic Countries

In recent years, the Nordic countries, and especially Sweden, Iceland and Denmark, have been giving serious thought to the option of becoming entirely independent of fossil fuels in the coming decades. Indeed, Sweden aims to have a fossil-free terrestrial and marine transportation system by 2030 – as a first step on the way to the fully electric transportation system envisaged for 2050.

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Has Coal Passed its Sell-by Date?

Very few commodities can point to such a long and successful career as coal. It was on hand at the start of the Industrial Revolution. And the mass production of the twentieth century would not have been possible without it. Even in the context of the rise of renewables in the twenty-first century, there were expectations of a coal ‘Renaissance’. Global coal consumption has in fact been increasing steadily – to 7 823 million tons in 2013.
A sudden demise?

But suddenly there’s talk of the demise or even the end of coal.

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The Solar Price Revolution

A silent revolution is under way. In November, Dubai announced the construction of a solar energy park that will produce electricity for less than $0.06 per kilowatt-hour – undercutting the cost of the alternative investment option, a gas or coal-fired power plant.

The plant – which is expected to be operational in 2017 – is yet another harbinger of a future in which renewable energy crowds out conventional fossil fuels.

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A Heady Cocktail for Growth that Lacks Tonic

Growth, too, isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, it has to be ‘qualitative’, ‘pro-poor’, ‘inclusive’, ‘sustainable’, ‘green’, or even ‘smart’. And if one attribute doesn’t suffice, a mix of all of them will do: “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” (EU Commission), “sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth” (UN) or “inclusive, pro-poor, green growth” (World Bank). This wonder-working growth cocktail, which is supposed to cure all of the twenty-first century’s ills, is nothing more than hot air.

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The Water-Energy Nexus: Seeking Integrated Solutions

Today is World Water Day. This year’s motto, ‘Water and Sustainable Development’, is in keeping with the prominent role sustainable development is expected to play in 2015. In September the United Nations will agree on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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A Sustainable Urban Development Concept for Potsdam

A city is home to many people. Many people means many different journeys through the city. And that usually means lots of traffic – with lots of noise and air pollution. Various measures can be taken to minimise the effects of pollution on people and the environment. Air quality plans, for example, can help to prevent air pollutants from reaching critical levels. Urban development concepts, on the other hand, focus on expanding the public transport network, among other things.

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Are the Sustainable Development Goals Sustainable?

2015 is going to be a pivotal year for sustainable development: a global climate agreement is due to be negotiated in Paris in December; under Germany’s presidency, the G7 Summit in June will address sustainable economic growth; and the 193 UN Member States will gather in New York in September to agree on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thereby setting the course for the global Post-2015 Agenda.

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The City of Boulder: An Example of a Sustainable Community

I’m just back from a trip to the USA, where I attended a workshop on future perspectives for Arctic air pollution research. While I originally intended to write about the workshop here, I’ve decided to postpone that article and want instead to write about my experience of the host city, Boulder, Colorado - a city with a multitude of sustainability initiatives.
Boulder is one of the happiest cities in the U.S.

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Choosing the Right Trees for Urban Greening

Many cities are currently creating more green spaces and planting trees. The growing momentum to increase the amount of green space in urban areas, seen, for example, in various ‘Million Tree’ campaigns, brings many benefits to urbanites. A reduction in summer temperatures, additional recreational opportunities, and storm-water control are among the motivations behind such programmes.

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The Energiewende in 2014

With 2014 now firmly behind us, it is a good time to take stock of what last year meant for the Energiewende and identify the key issues that will shape 2015. Was 2014 a good year for Germany’s ambitious energy transition strategy? What positive results did it bring and what were the more worrying ones?

The Energiewende is a comprehensive programme aimed at transitioning Germany to a more sustainable energy system with drastically reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also enhanced security of supply and economic efficiency.

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