Digital MultiplEE workshop on the spatial deployment of renewable energies

It would have been nice to host our scientific workshop live here in Leipzig as well as to welcome all participants in person; still, we were very satisfied with the interest and participation in our digital event. With this workshop, we intended to take a closer look at impacts, trade-offs and policy instruments of renewable energies which are important in spatial governance. In particular, it was important to us to present our own research results and the current state of research as well as to learn more about the research approaches of other scientists. The program therefore consisted on the one hand of smaller, interactive sessions in which participants worked together on proposed topics and on the other, open formats that offered external interested persons the opportunity to listen to keynotes and participate in ensuing discussions, as well as to inform themselves about and discuss the workshops participants current publications.

We would like to thank everyone whose contribution made our conference a thoroughly successful event for us. Special thanks go to the keynote speakers Rainer Baake, Brett Day, Christina von Haaren and Gundula Hübner as well as the facilitator Jennifer Hauck from CoKnow Consulting.

MultiplEE team holds virtual advisory board meeting

Also this year we exchanged views with our project advisory board, which consists of representatives from companies, science, specialist agencies, environmental and planning authorities. Together we looked back on the past MultiplEE year and reported on our work and the general progress of the project. In addition, some of the members of the advisory board took the opportunity to present their work in order to enter into a practical exchange.

The meeting focused on the question of how the expansion of wind energy in Germany and the associated regional costs and benefits could be distributed fairly among the German states (interregional distributive justice). We were particularly interested in which criteria and concepts should be considered from a practical as well as a scientific perspective.

This preliminary conclusion describes the main results of the discussion:

  1. Questions of interregional distributive justice in the expansion of wind energy are becoming more and more important politically (e.g. for the determination of state-specific contributions)
  2. However, interregional distributive justice can be understood quite differently

Many thanks to Jennifer Hauck of CoKnow Consulting for the moderation and to all others for their participation!

MultiplEE researchers present scientific work at the EAERE conference

The 25th annual conference of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EARE) took place virtually this year due to the coronavirus situation. All interested parties were thus able to participate in online sessions and presentations even without registering. Furthermore, the presentations were recorded and can be viewed again afterwards.

Paul Lehmann, Charlotte Geiger and Jan-Niklas Meier from the research group MultiplEE presented their scientific work. Paul Lehmann showed in his contribution “Optimal siting of onshore wind turbines in the presence of local disamenities” that the adverse effects of wind turbines on residents should be a decisive factor for the optimal choice of location. Charlotte Geiger spoke in her presentation “Managing spatial sustainability trade-offs: The case of wind power” about the sustainable expansion of onshore wind power. The spatial distribution of wind power plants depends strongly on how specific sustainability goals, e.g. the protection of nature and landscape, are weighted. In his contribution “Optimal federal regulation of renewable energy expansion”, Jan Meier outlined how the regulation of wind power expansion by the federal and state governments could be better coordinated.

The conference is planned for 2021 as an event on-site in Berlin.


This year, the EAERE is organized by the Technical University of Berlin and the Humboldt-University of Berlin (HU Berlin). The conference is supported by the broader Berlin research community in the field of environmental and resource economics, in particular the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).

Further information on the conference can be found here.

This is the contribution to the conference by Paul Lehmann.

Managing spatial sustainability trade-offs: The case of wind power

The deployment of onshore wind power involves spatial sustainability trade-offs, e.g., between the minimization of energy system costs, the mitigation of impacts on humans and biodiversity, and equity concerns. We analyze challenges arising for decision-making if wind power generation capacity has to be allocated spatially in the presence of such trade-offs. The analysis is based on a game developed for and played by stakeholders in Germany. The results of the game illustrate that there is no unanimously agreed ranking of sustainability criteria among the participating stakeholders. They disagreed not only on the weights of different criteria but also their definition and measurement. Group discussions further revealed that equity concerns mattered for spatial allocation. Yet, stakeholders used quite different concepts of equity. The results support the importance of transparent, multi-level and participatory approaches to take decisions on the spatial allocation of wind power generation capacity.

The article is available as a UFZ Discussion Paper. Read more.

Further recent publications of the research group can be found here.

Call for papers: “Governing the spatial deployment of renewable energies”

We are inviting submissions for our workshop “Governing the spatial deployment of renewable energies – Impacts, trade-offs and policy instruments”. The workshop is organized by the the junior research group MultiplEE and will take place at the Helmholtz Centre for environmental research (UFZ) in Leipzig (Germany) from 14th – 16th April, 2021.

Many countries worldwide aim at climate neutrality by 2050. A key strategy to achieve this goal is the use of renewable energy sources (RES), like wind energy, photovoltaics and bioenergy. However, the deployment of RES technologies produces sustainability impacts and trade-offs: While contributing to the mitigation of climate change, RES deployment also generates energy system costs and may adversely affect human well-being and biodiversity.

After three years of interdisciplinary exchange and joint research on the sustainable deployment of renewable energies (RES), we would like to use this workshop to explore policy strategies governing the sustainable spatial allocation of RES deployment. What kind of spatial impacts and trade-offs can be identified? How can we design policy instruments to address these spatial trade-offs?

Topics of interests

  • Spatial impacts and trade-offs of renewable energy deployment (e.g., energy system costs, environmental impacts, distributional concerns)
  • Designing policy instruments to address spatial trade-offs, including comparative inter-national policy analyses
  • Coordination of renewable energy policies across different levels of government (supra-national, national, regional, local)
  • Dealing with spatio-temporal dynamics and uncertainties in regulation of renewable energy deployment

Format and Submission

Extended abstracts (PDF file, max. 2 pages excluding references) can be submitted until September 15th, 2020. All abstracts will be reviewed. The papers will be selected based on their scientific quality, originality, and how closely they relate to the main workshop themes. We also strive for a balanced mix of genders, senior and junior researchers, and international backgrounds. There is no attendance fee. We invite researchers from a broad range of disciplines, including environmental sciences, economics, law, political science, spatial planning, geography, and energy system analysis. To submit your abstract, please click on the following link.

Important dates

  • Submission of abstract: September 15th, 2020
  • Notification of acceptance: November 18th, 2020
  • Submission of full paper and registration: March 1st, 2021

Keynote speakers

  • Dr Rainer Baake (requested): Economist, Former State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
  • Prof Dr Brett Day: Economist, University of Exeter
  • Prof Christina von Haaren: Landscape planner, Leibniz University Hannover
  • Prof Gundula Hübner: Psychologist, Medical School Hamburg

Position of Paul Lehmann and Erik Gawel on green ways out of the Corona crisis

The window of opportunity opened up by the corona crisis must be used without straying off course in terms of regulatory policy. Green development programmes must not be allowed to degenerate into pure subsidy competition, write Erik Gawel and Paul Lehmann, environmental economists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the University of Leipzig. Green stimuli must make sense in terms of stabilisation and environmental policy.

Read the position in the Tagesspiegel Background here (article in German).

New Publication: “Commitment Versus Discretion in Climate and Energy Policy”

Abstract: To decarbonize the power sector, policy-makers need to commit to long-term credible rules for climate and energy policy. Otherwise, risk of opportunistic policy-making will impair investments into low-carbon technologies. However, the future benefits and costs of decarbonization are subject to substantial uncertainties. Thus, there may also be societal gains from allowing policy-makers the discretion to adjust the policies as new information becomes available. We examine how this trade-off between policy commitment — either unconditional or state-contingent — and discretion affects the optimal intertemporal design of market-based instruments in the power sector. Using a dynamic partial equilibrium model, we show that commitment to a state-contingent level of ambition for the market-based instrument leads to higher welfare than both unconditional commitment and discretion. With benefit uncertainty, the choice between the practically more feasible approaches of unconditional commitment and discretion is analytically ambiguous. A basic numerical illustration suggests that policy discretion may outperform unconditional commitment in terms of welfare. However, this result is reversed when only a limited fraction of benefit uncertainty resolves in reasonable time, when future policy-makers have own agendas, or when investors are risk-averse. With cost uncertainty, policy discretion is welfare-superior if the government can commit to a technology deployment target.

Florian Habermacher & Paul Lehmann: “Commitment Versus Discretion in Climate and Energy Policy”. Published in Environmental and Resource Economics. Learn more about the article.

Further recent publications of the junior research group can be found here.

MultiplEE attends conference of the junior research groups of social-ecological research

Our team of the research group MultiplEE travelled to Bonn on 9 and 10 March and participated in the conference of the junior research groups of Social-ecological Research (SÖF). The conference was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the DLR Project Management Agency. Besides general contributions on the importance of social-ecological research in times of climate change and the role of inter- and transdisciplinary research in this context, the conference focused on the presentation of the individual junior research groups. Paul Lehmann presented the central research questions and first results of MultiplEE. In his presentation, he referred in particular to the contributions to the identification and evaluation of trade offs in the context of the energy system transformation. Afterwards, all researchers had the opportunity to informally exchange information about their research and to network. At the subsequent workshops, the participants shared their experiences, for example on methods of inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation or the development and communication of policy recommendations.

Additional information on the junior research groups can be found here. Watch out for further impressions of the conference on Twitter.

Paul Lehman presents the first results of the junior research group MultiplEE.

MultiplEE research group invites to advisory board meeting

The team of the research group MultiplEE is supported by a practice advisory board, which consists of representatives from companies, science, specialist agencies, environmental and planning authorities. Central milestones of the research project, such as current (political) developments around wind energy, planned publications or suitable formats for the exchange of knowledge with practice are discussed here at an early stage.

Last Wednesday, the research group invited to this year’s advisory board meeting 2019 at the Villa Tilmanns in Leipzig. After project leader Paul Lehmann introduced the project with an overview lecture on current research results, Jan-Niklas Meier presented the joint publication entitled “Does the climate package lack an area target for onshore wind energy? The team of the research group thus picks up the current discourse according to which the demands for an area of 2% provided for wind energy are becoming louder and louder in order to still be able to achieve the climate targets. Subsequently, the advisory board discussed various possible solutions and the feasibility of a concrete demand. In addition to further presentations on current research projects, the focus was on the exchange of information on the planned conference on areas for wind energy and the further planning of cooperation with the Advisory Board.

We would like to thank all representatives for their participation. Many thanks also to Jennifer Hauck, who moderated the event.

Advisory board of the research group MultiplEE
Jan-Niklas Meier
Philip Tafarte
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Paul Lehmann