Alpine energy on the international stage

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Renewable energy | One Comment
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The Great Wall of China, north of Beijing. Even on the international stage, the questions raised by are relevant and pressing.

Even far from the Alps, the questions raised by about tradeoffs between ecosystems protection and bioenergy production are hot topics. Last week, IIASA’s Florian Kraxner presented the latest results from work on the project at the International Energy Workshop (IEW) in Beijing, one of the leading conferences for the international energy modeling research community.

The IEW normally focuses on worldwide modeling methods and results, from the Integrated Assessment Modeling community. In contrast, the focuses on regional and local questions. At IEW, Kraxner focused in on these local and regional questions, presenting two scenarios developed as part of the project. The scenarios examine the tradeoffs between managing forests in the Alps for maximum carbon sequestration or managing forests to maximize biomass for energy production. In both scenarios, the researchers show, Alpine forests can be managed sustainably with no forest degradation, deforestation, but no afforestation.

The study has also taken the question to a detailed local level, using the Austrian region of Voralberg as a case study. The study showed that excluding certain areas from harvesting for biomass does not lead to major costs in terms of bioenergy production. But the same is not necessarily true in neighboring provinces in Austria or Switzerland, the study shows.

Such local and regional-level studies are extremely important, argues Kraxner, because without them global assessment models remain far too inaccurate to know how much bioenergy can contribute to climate stabilization targets. He says, “To date there are no sophisticated and integrated renewable/bioenergy potentials in the literature which consider the sustainable production as well as the conservation of ecosystem services at high resolution.” is a first step in that direction, says Kraxner.


About Katherine Leitzell

Katherine Leitzell is a science writer at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), in Laxenburg Austria. IIASA researchers are working on the economic-ecological modelling for the project.

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