19 March 2014 - 21 March 2014
Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

BeWhere Alps at GLP-OSM 2014

Sabine Fuss, from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change gGmbH, presented an update of the BeWhere Alps model at the Global Land Project meeting in Berlin.

Renewable energy (RE) is considered as a cornerstone of the EU’s climate change mitigation policy and at the same time gaining importance in response to Germany’s, Switzerland’s and partially also Italy’s move to distance themselves from nuclear power solutions. According to the Alpine Convention’s Energy Protocol, the Alpine region will make a long-term contribution to meeting Europe’s energy needs. However, other ecosystems services and most notably biodiversity often compete with RE for productive sites and there are thus important tradeoffs to be analyzed and understood in order to maintain ecosystem functions and services in scenarios of increasing RE demand and other pressures (e.g. climate change). The study presented uses a spatial optimization model to determine the cost-optimal location of bioenergy plants for the production of centralized heating/cooling, electricity, and biofuels under sustainability criteria at different scales (the Alpine space versus pilot regions such as Torento, where higher resolution data are available). In addition, the analysis does not intend to assign a monetary value to biodiversity and other ecosystems functions, but progressively exclude areas from the optimization process according to a ranking of the ecosystem services they provide, thereby tracing out the marginal costs of protecting those areas. In this way, the ecological-economic tradeoffs can be quantified and visualized for the decision-maker without making assumptions on weights and preferences and judgments about valuation. By combining this with an analysis of the main sources of uncertainty (e.g. about policy support, which may or may not materialize or be maintained) and the corresponding scenario building, decision-makers can furthermore form strategies that offer them a certain extent of robustness across those uncertainties. 

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Last edited: 25 March 2014


Sylvain Leduc

Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

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