Top 10 Publications of 2016

This selection of the ten most important scientific publications of the Wuppertal Institute in 2016 provides an insight into the current international recognised research activities in the context of sustainability transformations.

Modelling and Transdisciplinary Methods

Jensen, Thorben; Holtz, Georg; Baedeker, Carolin; Chappin, Emile J. L.
Energy-efficiency impacts of an air-quality feedback device in residential buildings: an agent-based modeling assessment

In: Energy and Buildings 116 (2016), pp. 151-163.

A key factor to energy-efficiency of heating in buildings is the behaviour of households, in particular how they ventilate rooms. Devices can support behavioural change by giving feedback to consumers on their behaviour. One such feedback device, the "CO2 meter", shows indoor air-quality in the colours of a traffic light to motivate energy-efficient "shock ventilation". The paper analyses the potential effect of the device on ventilation behaviour within households, the diffusion of "CO2 meter" to other households, as well as the diffusion of changed behaviour to households that do not adopt a "CO2 meter" by using an agent-based model of these processes for the city of Bottrop (Germany).

Weigel, Max; Fischedick, Manfred; Marzinkowski, Joachim; Winzer, Petra
Multicriteria analysis of primary steelmaking technologies

In: Journal of Cleaner Production 112 (2016), pp. 1064-1076

To reduce product demand and therefore mitigate the climate impact of the iron and steel industry, four fields of efficiency should be tackled: energy efficiency, emission efficiency, material efficiency and product use efficiency. The paper focuses on one of those four key measures: emission efficiency via innovative primary steelmaking technologies. Four technologies (the blast furnace route, the blast furnace with carbon capture and storage, hydrogen direct reduction, and iron ore electrolysis) are assessed systematically and holistically in Germany, as one possible location. The results aim to provide decision makers in industry and government with a long-term guidance on technological choices.


Energy- and Climate Transition

Dütschke, Elisabeth; Wohlfarth, Katharina; Höller, Samuel; Viebahn, Peter; Schumann, Diana; Pietzner, Katja
Differences in the public perception of CCS in Germany depending on CO2 source, transport option and storage location

In: International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 53 (2016), pp. 149-159

One of the factors decelerating a further diffusion of the carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is the public's negative perception of early pilot or demonstration activities in Germany as well as in other countries. This study examines the public perception of CCS in more detail by looking into different options within the CCS chain, i.e. for the three elements capture, transport and storage. Overall, the findings show that the ratings of CCS were neutral on average. However, certain scenarios were rated more positively than others, e.g. if the CO2 is produced by a biomass power plant or industry, CCS is rated more positively than in a scenario with a coal-fired power plant.

Lechtenböhmer, Stefan; Nilsson, Lars J.; Ahman, Max; Schneider, Clemens
Decarbonising the energy intensive basic materials industry through electrification. Implications for future EU electricity demand

In: Energy 115 (2016), pp. 1623-1631

Near zero emissions does not only sound good, but this transition is actually both technically and economically possible. Energy and materials efficiency can, when being combined, easily reduce specific emissions by at least 50 percent. To reach zero emissions, though, new technologies will also be needed, including electrification based on renewable sources of energy. Different materials for decarbonisation face different levels of resource constraints, but a circular economy powered by renewable energy is a viable solution.

Schüwer, Dietmar; Krüger, Christine; Merten, Frank; Nebel, Arjuna
The potential of grid-orientated distributed cogeneration on the minutes reserve market and how changing the operating mode impacts on CO2 emissions

In: Energy 110 (2016), pp. 23-33

Distributed cogeneration units are flexible and suited to providing balancing power, thereby contributing to the integration of renewable electricity. Against this background, this paper analyses the technical potential and ecological impact of CHP (combined heat and power) systems on the German minutes reserve market for 2010, 2020 and 2030. Typical CHP plants (from 1 to 2800 kWel) were evaluated in relation to typical buildings or supply cases in different sectors. The minutes reserve potential was determined by an optimisation model with a temporal resolution of 15 min. The results were scaled up to national level using a scenario analysis for the future development of CHP. Additionally, the extent to which three different flexibility measures (double plant size/fourfold storage volume/emergency cooler) increase the potential provision of balancing power was examined. Their key findings demonstrate that distributed CHP could contribute significantly to the provision of minutes reserve in future decades. Flexibility options would further enhance the theoretical potential. The grid-orientated operating mode slightly increases CO2 emissions compared to the heat-orientated mode, but it is still preferable to the separate generation of heat and power. However, the impacts of a flexible mode depend greatly on the application and power-to-heat ratio of the individual CHP system.

Ürge-Vorsatz, Diana; Kelemen, Agnes; Tirado-Herrero, Sergio; Thomas, Stefan; Thema, Johannes; Mzavanadze, Nora; Hauptstock, Dorothea; Suerkemper, Felix; Teubler, Jens; Gupta, Mukesh; Chatterjee, Souran
Measuring multiple impacts of low-carbon energy options in a green economy context

In: Applied Energy 179 (2016), pp. 1409-1426

The economic assessment of low-carbon energy options is the primary step towards the design of policy portfolios to foster the green energy economy. However, today these assessments often fall short of including important determinants of the overall cost-benefit balance of such options by not including indirect costs and benefits, even though these can be game-changing. This is often due to the lack of adequate methodologies.
The paper discusses the measurement of multiple impacts of low-carbon energy options in a green economy context. The purpose of their paper is to provide a comprehensive account of the key methodological challenges to the assessment of the multiple impacts of energy options, and an initial menu of potential solutions to address these challenges. The paper first provides evidence for the importance of the multiple impacts of energy actions in the assessment of low-carbon options. Moreover the paper identifies a few key challenges to the evaluation of the co-impacts of low-carbon options and demonstrates that these are more complex for co-impacts than for the direct ones. Such challenges include several layers of additionality, high context dependency, and accounting for distributional effects. The paper continues by identifying the key challenges to the aggregation of multiple impacts including the risks of overcounting while taking into account the multitude of interactions among the various co-impacts. The paper proposes an analytical framework that can help to address these and frame a systematic assessment of the multiple impacts.

Suerkemper, Felix; Thema, Johannes; Thomas, Stefan; Dittus, Florian; Kumpaengseth, Monthon; Beerepoot, Milou
Benefits of energy efficiency policies in Thailand: an ex-ante evaluation of the energy efficiency action plan

In: Energy Efficiency 9 (2016), pp. 187-210

Over the last few decades, Thailand has experienced a transformation from an agricultural to a semi-industrialised economy. As a result of strong economic growth, the final energy consumption in Thailand has drastically increased. In this article the results of an ex-ante evaluation of the economy-wide benefits that may be achieved trough the implementation of the 20-year Energy Efficiency Action Plan (EEAP) in Thailand are presented. This evaluation shows that an effective implementation of the plan may lead to a reduction in energy expenditure of 37,7 billion Euro by 2030.

Hermwille, Lukas
The role of narratives in socio-technical transitions - Fukushima and the energy regimes of Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom

In: Energy Research & Social Science 11 (2016), pp. 237-246

A transition towards sustainable development is necessary in order to reconfigure global socio-economic systems to be compatible with social imperatives and planetary boundaries. In this paper the multi-level perspective (MLP) is complemented by providing an ontological framework for studying and understanding the role of narratives as vehicle of meaning and intermediation between individual and social collective in the context of ongoing transition.
To illustrate and test the approach, it is applied to the case of the Fukushima catastrophe: The narratives in relation to nuclear power in Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom are scrutinised and it is explored how these narratives have co-determined the policy responses and thus influenced ongoing transformation processes in the power sectors of the respective countries.


Resources Transition

Geibler, Justus von; Cordaro, Francesco; Kennedy, Katharina; Lettenmeier, Michael; Roche, Bruno
Integrating resource efficiency in business strategies: a mixed-method approach for environmental life cycle assessment in the single-serve coffee value chain

In: Journal of Cleaner Production 115 (2016), pp. 62-74

There is a need for practical tools that enable businesses to implement resource efficiency in their value chains. In this paper, a mixed-method approach for assessing the life-cycle-wide use of natural resources in products and services is applied in a case study on a coffee value chain of the company Mars Incorporated. Material inputs along the entire chain were assessed quantitatively using the Material Input Per unit of Service (MIPS) method, while a semi-quantitative Hot Spot Analysis was performed to identify environmental hot spots. The paper concludes that combining the methods provides better insights into the value chain than using just one of either of the methods alone. For the company, the approach has proven to be practicable because it identifies improvement options and their value-chain-wide resource efficiency potential.

Wilts, Henning ; Gries, Nadja von ; Bahn-Walkowiak, Bettina
From waste management to resource efficiency - the need for policy mixes

In: Sustainability 8 (2016), 622

Treating waste as a resource and the design of a circular economy have been identified as key approaches for resource efficiency. Despite ambitious targets, policies and instruments that would enable a transition from a conventional waste management to an integrated and comprehensive resource management are still missing. Moreover, this will require innovative policy mixes which do not only address different end-of-pipe approaches but integrate various resource efficiency aspects from product design to patterns of production and consumption.
The paper addresses several aspects of the conceptualisation of policy mixes with regard to waste as a specific resource efficiency challenge. The guiding research interest of this paper is the combination of policies necessary to create a full circular economy.


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