Many cities in industrialized countries currently pass through societal and spatial transformation processes. These processes make high demands on the reconfiguration of the previous infrastructure provision. At the same time, cities in general built a center for the emission of climate-wrecking greenhouse gases (GHG). Reducing these GHG emissions to a minimum is one of the most challenging tasks during the first half of this century. A sustainable urban development which embraces the social, ecological and economic requirements is open to discuss different concepts and strategies to accomplish the transformation processes in the coming decades.
In some cities and regions a variety of challenges such as demographical changes, economical and financial difficulties as well as climate change emerge all together. One example is the city of Wuppertal located between Rhineland and Ruhr area. The pressure to act offers the chance to strike a new path as an early adopter. In case of success the city might serve as a role model for other cities.
The sustainable urban transition research deals with the question of how cities can cope with long term challenges and become viable for the future. Technological oriented innovations with their social implications such as energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies currently stand in the research focus. In the paper we analyze a third sustainability strategy called energy sufficiency. We apply different concepts of the transition research to this strategy and examine sufficiency on the basis of expert and stakeholder interviews.
From a theoretical point of view the question raises if energy sufficiency presents a concrete research field in the sustainable urban transition theory. Moreover, we pose the question if energy sufficiency as a predominantly non-technical strategy can be adequately analyzed by central concepts of the transition theory. If it is the case, does it necessitate amplifications or additions?
In the case study of Wuppertal it is examined in accordance with the problem analysis phase of the transition enabling cycle which local stakeholders are important to foster energy sufficiency. How do they rate energy sufficiency today and in the future as well as their role concerning the strategy? Furthermore, we analyze which strategies and measures are suitable to foster energy sufficiency in the long run. A focus is set on two sectors that jointly count for a great deal of urban energy demand: space heating of private households and passenger transport.
The promotion of energy sufficiency as a strategy of action is a cross-sectoral task which has to be put into practice on different political and spatial levels. However, the analysis in Wuppertal shows that the local level is an appropriate starting point for the investigation of energy sufficiency in the sectors of space heating of private households and passenger transport. Even though many stakeholders were surprised that they are considered to be very important for the establishment and implementation of energy sufficiency they were interested in the strategy. Moreover, all interviewed stakeholders could imagine supporting energy sufficiency. Many individual measures and general strategies were identified which facilitate energy sufficiency on a local level.
Energiesuffizienz als Strategie zur Förderung nachhaltiger Stadtentwicklung
(sustainable urban energy transition)
Akteure und Maßnahmen auf kommunaler Ebene am Beispiel der Stadt Wuppertal
Wuppertal Paper no. 190 (July 2016)