Indicators of social sustainability for energy regions of the future (SONAH)
The sustainable use of technologies depends, beyond economic and ecological aspects, notably on 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 should be answered and further elaborated taking the example of two "energy regions".
The main project goals were as follows:
- Decision makers in administration and 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.
The overall goal was to foster, especially at the regional level, the social acceptance of technologies and strategies to generate renewable energy in Austria, and therefore, to contribute to the embedding of innovative technologies into society.
The project developed a practical set of criteria and indicators of social sustainability (social compatibility) focusing the regional level and elaborated on a concept for the methodological use of this instrument in the target groups' daily work of planning and running renewable energy plants/ establishing energy strategies and concepts. Criteria/indicators and the application of the instrument have been tested successfully throughout Austria. It is essential that in all project steps there was a clear alignment of instruments and methodological development with the needs of energy regions and selected stakeholders, experienced in the area of renewable energy. This alignment was guaranteed by an intense stakeholder dialogue throughout the project (project duration 2009-2011)
The project has been concluded in February 2011. The main output is the "SONAH criteria catalogue". This tool, together with other user group specific tools will be accessible via Internet from end of Mai 2011 (in German only).
Dr. Gudrun Lettmayer
Mag.a Barbara Hammerl
Project or cooperation partner
- Mag. Jürgen Suschek Berger, DIin Dr.in Uli Seebacher
IFZ - Interuniversitäres Forschungszentrum für Technik, Arbeit und Kultur
- Mag.a Johanna Ehetreiber, DI Christian Luttenberger
- DI Josef Bärnthaler
Dr. Gudrun Lettmayer
Institut für Nachhaltige Techniken und Systeme
Tel.: +43 316 876 2415
Fax: +43 316 876 2430