Renewable Resources and Land Use - NaRoLa

Start of Project 11/2007
End of Project 03/2010

Project description

The development of oil prices during the last years shows that worldwide demand for fossil fuel outpaces its supply. Most experts believe that this process is doing to continue in the coming years. Consequences of the use of fossil fuels are emissions of greenhouse gases with all their detrimental effects for global climate. Furthermore, the German and European energy supply strongly depends on fossil fuel imports. These are important arguments for a more balanced German energy mix of renewable and fossil energy sources that is in line with sustainable development principles. Currently promoted renewable energy sources are wind and solar power and also biomass, which is ascribed a high potential. Biomass used in its various ways represents one of the most important renewable energy sources and plays a role in most energy supply strategies. Biomass production, however, very much depends on the availability of arable land. Its cultivation therefore conflicts with food production but also with other land use options such as recreational use and nature conservation areas. Moreover, macroeconomic and international feedback effects have to be taken into consideration. Developing an efficient and sustainable energy supply strategy thus implies to pay due attention to the various trade-offs between profitability, energy supply security and environmental sustainability.

The objective of the NaRoLa project is the development of an integrated modeling system that connects the interdependencies on global energy markets with the potential for biomass production in Germany. This modeling system will allow an analysis of the contribution of biomass to a sustainable energy supply and the assessment of its economic, environmental and social consequences. Special attention will also be given to competitive conditions on international energy and agricultural markets together with the relevant EU and WTO administered competition rules. The precise research questions to be answered during the course of this project are – with a focus on Germany:

  • Which role can biomass / renewable resources play in energy generation?

  • Which are the national and international economic feedback effects of bioenergy use and the resulting consequences for the role of bioenergy in an optimal energy mix with respect to climate policies?

  • What is the impact of bioenergy on land use, sectoral production, factor input, and incomes?

  • What are the impacts of energy policies on regional land use and allocation of bioenergy plants taking into account the arable potentials and travel costs?

  • What are the environmental consequences of increased bioenergy production?

  • How does the expansion of the bioenergy sector contribute to the development of rural areas?

  • How can the complex interdependencies be modeled on different scales and between sectors?