The right model for the job

Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria. Credit: Andreas Metz via Flickr. Creative Commons License

Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria. Credit: Andreas Metz via Flickr. Creative Commons License

The project asks big questions about the issues of renewable energy in the Alps region. How do we balance renewable energy production with tourism and protection of nature? What should the mix be between solar, wind, hydro, and bioenergy along with sustainable natural resource management? To answer those questions, project partners look to models of forest production, economics, and environment, to analyze the future prospects for the region.

But no single research team or model has the magic answer to all of these questions. Some models provide a good overview of big areas or global trends. Others are useful for small-scale planning, but too detailed to run at a large scale. IIASA and EURAC researchers discussed and defined these roles for the project at a meeting on 16 December 2013. The outcome takes advantage of both teams’ strengths: IIASA researchers will focus on the entire Alps region while the EURAC researchers will conduct the more detailed examinations of the pilot regions. Both teams will work across the full range of renewable energy sources such as hydro, solar, and wind power and data will be shared between the groups such that robust analysis can be done on both scales.

During the meeting, researchers from University of Innsbruck (UIBK) also presented criteria for natural habitat mapping so that their protection adds value to the regions. Consideration of related ecosystems services is fundamental to the project and both IIASA and EURAC researchers will use this information to add value to their detailed examinations.

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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