Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-11-10 - 2025-02-09
Young people have an important role to play in a society's ability to innovate, as they can become effective through new and unfamiliar approaches to problems and creative, innovative ideas, thereby enabling the continuity and further development of our society. The active participation of young people in local and regional development is also considered to be of great importance in promoting identification with the community and region, promoting social cohesion and a sense of responsibility, as well as reducing the likelihood of young people moving away. The establishment of youth councils in Lower Austria in 2013 was an important step towards representing the group of young people and young adults at municipal level and ensuring an exchange between various youth-related organisations, associations, educational institutions and the province of Lower Austria. However, practice shows that the opportunities for young people to participate in solving social issues are limited and the existing participation programmes are often not adequate to successfully involve young people. At the same time, youth is a very short development phase during which interests and priorities change rapidly. This makes it all the more important to work with adequate methods and on topics identified jointly with young people (co-creation). This project therefore addresses the following research questions: Which location- and region-specific potentials and challenges of youth participation in the LEADER region Wein4tel Donauraum can be identified and which recommendations for action can be derived? What are the wishes and needs of young people in the Weinviertel Donauraum region and how can these be taken into account in local and regional decision-making? Which participation formats appeal to young people and how would they themselves design participation formats?
Integrated Energy Infrastructure Planning Tool for Cross-Sector Resilience and Flexibilization Concepts
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-12-01 - 2024-11-30
In less than seven years, Austria's electricity supply is intended to be entirely sourced from renewable energy, positioning the country on the home stretch to achieve climate neutrality. To inform this transformation process, numerous interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scenarios by the project consortium attempt to envision how the energy infrastructure, including generation, transportation, conversion, distribution, and utilization, could look in the coming decades. However, preliminary projects highlight serious deficiencies in these planning tools. For instance, the future provision and demand for various energy resources are marked by growing uncertainties that are not currently receiving sufficient attention. Considering the escalating and multifaceted uncertainties, it is imperative to apply radically rethought, cross-sectoral, and integrative resilience and flexibilization concepts. However, not only current political and market framework conditions hinder the application of relevant concepts, but our existing planning tools are also not designed to comprehensively represent their societal value. Flexibility research has been gaining increasing importance in recent years. Energy infrastructure planning tools previously focused on the optimal allocation of resources under average deployment conditions. However, state-of-the-art tools typically have a one-sided focus on the efficient use of surplus resources, such as peak electricity. On the other hand, resilience research primarily deals with disaster risk reduction, safety considerations, the negative impact of sudden resource shortages, and recovery after extreme events. Unlike flexibility research, this research area has a longer history in various disciplines, ranging from food networks, supply chains for material goods, investment portfolios to infrastructure planning. In energy system models, extraordinary deviations still receive insufficient attention. The central opportunity now lies in integrating resilience and flexibilization concepts to plan a resource-efficient and systemically resilient energy infrastructure. Exciting possibilities arise from multi-sectoral coupling. The interface between electricity and bioenergy supply is used as a cross-sectoral use case. This allows for identifying synergies, particularly between measures for dealing with the impacts of climate change, regular fluctuations in solar radiation, wind availability and water supply, wind breakage, snow load, floods, pest infestation and crop damage, as well as societal and trade-related transportation risks.
Impact analysis of photovoltaic plants on biodiversity, taking into account the diverse natural conditions of the Austrian landscape
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-09-01 - 2024-06-30
In order to limit the negative consequences of ongoing climate change and global warming to an extent that is likely manageable for mankind, it is necessary to achieve climate neutrality. The nationwide expansion of photovoltaic systems is expected to make a significant contribution to achieving climate neutrality in Austria. Due to the national expansion target for photovoltaic plants, open spaces must also be used for the upcoming expansion. However, the expansion of photovoltaic plants on ecologically sensitive sites can have a significant negative impact on the biodiversity of these habitats. Due to Austria's special bio-geographical situation, both the great diversity of ecosystems and the high proportion of priority or otherwise protected habitats must be taken into account. Despite the fact that habitat deterioration by photovoltaic expansion may already be underway in Austria, potentially accelerating the nationwide loss of biodiversity, there are currently no strategies for Austria to plan and advance this development in a way that is as biodiversity-friendly as possible. Therefore, the aim of this project is to analyze the effects of photovoltaic plants on the biodiversity of different habitats considered for expansion. The project provides essentially fundamental scientific data to make an optimized biodiversity-friendly expansion of photovoltaic systems in open spaces in Austria feasible, and thus optimizes target conflicts between SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Additionally, SDG 7 (Affordable and clean Energy) is addressed by the project. The analyses are based on a survey of experts, which draws on a large part of the Austrian biodiversity community via the Austrian "Biodiversity Network". This approach enables work on a comprehensive question, which has both scientific and practical relevance.