The intention of the project was to search for decentralised innovations that are accepted by the population in the area of cooperation between cities and their surrounding areas. Because Germany needs these for the energy transition, the bioeconomy and for protection against extreme weather events. It is also clear that if energy policy, bioeconomic and climate-resilient objectives are pursued simultaneously in a region, a wide variety of influencing factors will inevitably interact in a complex manner. The project wanted to do justice to this complex reality.

IZT's task was to provide insights into the ecological, social and political sustainability of different biomass uses. For example, what difference does it make whether a biogas plant is filled with organic residues or with energy crops such as maize and sugar beet? How can biogas plants contribute to the energy transition and at the same time to a circular economy? The aim of the project was to design solutions that are based on a sound sustainability assessment and at the same time meet with broad acceptance among the population as far as possible.

The IZT sub-project aimed at an integrated indicator-based sustainability assessment. IZT developed a methodological approach while providing empirical findings on environmental, social and political sustainability as well as hurdles and barriers to innovative biomass use paths in the region of Northern Hesse and beyond. By examining and adapting sustainability assessments as a basis for decision-making, allowing a systematic consideration of the adopted and possible future biomass development paths and discussing them with a view to overarching regional transformation strategies, the IZT contributed to the development of effective governance formations of a decentralised and sustainable energy transition.

questions of the IZT sub-project:

  • How are development paths taken in the region and possible alternative innovation and transformation processes of biomass use to be assessed in relation to key sustainability dimensions?
  • Which sustainability indicators are suitable for recording and evaluating land use change and possible conflicts of objectives in view of the objectives of a bioeconomy and taking into account the medium- and long-term regional effects of climate change?
  • Where are the hurdles and obstacles to innovative use paths (e.g. conflicting interests of agriculture and forestry)?
  • To what extent can the findings also be transferred to other locations and what insights can be gained from them for higher-level transformation strategies?

This project was supported by the BMBF under the funding code 03SF0550B.