The Wuppertal Institute has compiled a selection of their ten most important scientific publications of the year 2019. The peer-reviewed articles provide an insight into the current international recognised research activities and the transdisciplinary research approach of the institute.
Modeling and transdisciplinary methods
To analyse how the field of sustainable energy research is being explored, Manuel Bickel from the Sustainable Production and Consumption Division has applied in his article "Reflecting trends in the academic landscape of sustainable energy using probabilistic topic modeling" a text mining approach to over 25,000 Scopus-indexed abstracts based on a latent Dirichlet allocation topic model. This statistical method is used to highlight current thematic trends, different thematic fields and emerging communities in the thematic network. The quantitative results were critically reflected from a sustainability perspective.
Based on a case study of the NOORo I CSP plant (Concentrated Solar Power Plant) in Ouazazate, Morocco, the authors of the Future Energy and Industrial Systems Division examined in their article "Social impacts of large-scale solar thermal power plants: Assessment results for the NOOR0 I power plant in Morocco" the social impacts of large-scale infrastructure on local communities. The data collected in two empirical field studies, combined with expert interviews and analysis of secondary data, provide detailed evidence of the nature and importance of the impact of the NOORo I CSP power plant on local living standards.
In the article "Critical evaluation of the material characteristics and environmental potential of laser beam melting processes for the additive manufacturing of metallic components" a team of authors from the Sustainable Production and Consumption Division at the Wuppertal Institute investigated the material properties and environmental impact of a hose nozzle as an example of a commercial product with simple geometry. The consumption of natural resources, the climate protection potential and the primary energy demand of the production routes turning (conventional production) and laser beam melting (additive production) were compared. Among other things, the authors found that other production processes (here the cold forging of tubes) can be an environmentally friendly alternative to both routes if they are feasible from an economic point of view.
In the context of the MENA SELECT project, the second team from the Division Future Energy and Industrial Systems developed in their article "Long-Term Electricity Scenarios for the MENA Region: Assessing the Preferences of Local Stakeholders Using Multi-Criteria Analyses" future scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the electricity sector in Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. These were developed and evaluated in a series of two-day workshops together with relevant social actors from the three countries. The results show that local actors in all three countries prefer scenarios based mainly or even exclusively on renewable energies.
Climate, energy and resources transition
Lukas Hermwille (Energy, Transport and Climate Policy Division) together with Lisa Sanderink evaluated in the article "Make Fossil Fuels Great Again? The Paris Agreement, Trump, and the US Fossil Fuel Industry" the influence of international politics and the Paris Agreement on the governance of socio-technical systems towards decarbonisation. The study examined the struggle of competing narratives as they appear in the communications of the leading associations and companies of the US fossil fuel industry. It found, among other things, that the election of Donald Trump and his climate and energy policies led to a narrative shift in the coal industry. In contrast to the oil and gas industry, which remained conspicuously silent in its immediate response and maintained its narrative strategies despite its alignment with the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Climate Convention requires all parties to make contributions to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The team of authors from the Division Energy, Transport and Climate Policy, together with Perspectives Climate Research, makes recommendations in their article "Additionality revisited: guarding the integrity of market mechanisms under the Paris Agreement" on how to implement the concept of additionality under Article 6 of the Paris Climate Convention. Article 6 allows states to cooperate in the implementation of their climate protection contributions and to transfer emission reductions among themselves. The article recommends different approaches to additionality assessment for individual projects, programmes and different types of policy measures.
The paper "Is India pulling its weight?", by Aniruddh Mohan and Timon Wehnert from the Future Energy and Industrial Systems Division, assesses India's climate policy in comparison with the national energy plans in the run-up to the climate negotiations (COP24). They noted that while India is well on track to meet its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), these targets were rather modest in view of the national energy policy context.
How can policymakers support households, producers and local authorities in pursuing energy sufficiency? This question was addressed in the Article "Energy sufficiency policy for residential electricity use and per-capita dwelling size" by another team of authors from the Division Energy, Transport and Climate Policy using an adapted and in some cases newly developed set of methods to derive recommendations for which policy instruments an effective policy package must be put together to promote energy sufficiency.
Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Scientific Director of the Wuppertal Institute, and Paul Weigel, PhD student at the Wuppertal Institute, deal in their article "Review and Categorization of Digital Applications in the Energy Sector" with the digitisation of the German energy sector. The authors gave an overview of possible applications in the German energy sector and worked out the expected benefits and the actors involved. For this purpose they examined relevant publications that take a broad view on the digitisation of the energy sector.
The article "A Policy Mix for Resource Efficiency in the EU: Key Instruments, Challenges and Research Needs" by the team of authors from the Division Circular Economy deals with the question of a sensible and effective strategy for implementing resource efficiency in the EU. It developed a conceptual framework for the definition, evaluation and development of policy mixes for resource efficiency. It is argued that a mix of policies and instruments is best suited to meet the complex challenges of the 21st century.