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.


Germany and Brazil – Two Very Different Pioneers of Renewable Energies

This August, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and other ministers will travel to Brazil for intergovernmental consultations. They should seize this opportunity to breathe new life into cooperation on renewables under the German-Brazilian energy partnership. Closer cooperation with Brazil – a country that has been an important frontrunner of the global expansion of renewables – would give further momentum to Germany’s international Energiewende policy.

The German-Brazilian energy partnership was initiated in 2008.

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Reforming the International Monetary System to Save the Climate

What does reforming the international monetary system have to do with saving the climate? As it happens quite a bit, says Robert Wade, Professor for Political Economy and Development at the London School of Economics. At a guest lecture at the IASS on 15 June, he described a number of proposals for reducing macroeconomic imbalances and strengthening the resilience of the international financial system.

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Fostering Synergies to Tackle Arctic Sustainability Challenges

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) 2015 in Toyama, Japan, organised by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Science Council of Japan. The event brought together nearly 700 international scientists, students, policy makers, research managers, Indigenous Peoples, and other key players with the goal of “developing, prioritizing and coordinating plans for future Arctic research”.

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The Potential of Big Data and Cycling

Did you know that after buses, cycling is the most effective use of road space? It’s not really surprising if you think about it, but still a cool statistic. Last week I attended the 4th National German Bicycling Congress. This year it was conveniently held around the corner from the IASS in Potsdam – so, ironically, I didn’t even need to bike there, I could just walk.

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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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