Indicators of social sustainability for energy regions of tomorrow (SONAH)
By the development of a practical set of criteria and indicators of social sustainability (social compatibility) and by elaborating on a concept for the methodological use of this instrument in planning and running renewable energy plants as well as in establishing energy strategies and concepts, the goals of this project were reached.
Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT); Programme „Energy of Tomorrow“
- Joanneum Research, Institute for Sustainable Technologies and Systems (JOINTS) (project leader)
- Energy Agency Upper Styria
- Regional Management East Styria
The sustainable use of technologies depends, beyond economic and ecological aspects, notably on the so-called third pillar of sustainability, that is, a technology’s social component or social compatibility. Therefore, when assessing the sustainability of generating and using renewable energy, this must not be limited to economic and ecological parameters. Social sustainability of a technology to a considerable extent depends on the “social anchoring”, expressed by the society’s attitude to perceive it as useful and accept it. Especially renewable energy, as it is largely generated at the regional level, makes use of the region’s resources and thereby intervenes into the region’s structure.
The following questions remained unanswered so far: How sustainable in their social aspects are renewable energies (regarding their way of generation and their regional impact)? What are measurable indicators to describe and monitor their social sustainability? What methodological instruments to choose in order to secure their social compatibility? These questions were answered and further elaborated taking the example of two „energy regions“.
Two main project goals have been identified:
- Decision makers and experts in administration and – in second instance – plant operators as target groups will be supported in the assessment of social compatibility of strategies, concepts, planning and operating renewable energy plants.
- The social sustainability of such concepts, planning procedures and running plants shall be made measurable for the first time at the regional level, using a practical and comprehensive method.
These goals were reached by the development of a practical set of criteria and indicators of social sustainability (social compatibility) and by elaborating on a concept for the methodological use of this instrument in planning and running renewable energy plants as well as in establishing energy strategies and concepts.