Towards a Sustainable Spatial Organization of the Energy System: Backcasting Experiences from Austria
The transition to a sustainable energy system faces more challenges than a simple replacement of fossil energy sources by renewable ones. Since current structures do not favor sustainable energy generation and use, it is indispensable to change the existing infrastructure. A fundamental change of the energy system also requires re-organizing spatial structures and their respective institutions and governance structures. Especially in Austria, urban sprawl and unsustainable settlement structures are regarded as one of the main developments leading to increased energy demand. One of the aims within the project E-Trans 2050 was to identify socio-economic constellations that are central to the further transformation of the energy system and to focus on actors and their socio-technical framework conditions. Based on a sustainable future vision for the year 2050 a backcasting workshop was conducted to identify necessary steps for the envisaged transition to a more sustainable energy system. The results shed light on the necessary changes for a transformation towards sustainability in the specific Austrian situation. Critical issues are region-specific production of energy and its use, settlement and regional structures and values and role models, which all have a determining influence on energy demand. Combining the knowledge of extensive energy use with available energy resources in spatial planning decisions is a main challenge towards a long term sustainable energy system.
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