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Integrating Energy and Water Management in a Low Mountain Region: A Project for Coupled Ecosystem Services

Original scientific paper

Journal of Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
ARTICLE IN PRESS (scheduled for Vol 12, Issue 04 (general)), 1120521
DOI: https://doi.org/10.13044/j.sdewes.d12.0521 (registered soon)
Roland Menges1 , Felix Eckenfels2
1 University of Technology Clausthal, Clausthal, Germany
2 TU Clausthal, Clausthal, Germany


An interdisciplinary research project funded by the EU Regional Development Fund (ERDF) deals with the question of how energy infrastructure projects can be developed which, in addition to their contributions to security of energy supply, also provide plannable ecosystem services in the area of high and low water protection and drinking water production. The background of the project is the Lower Saxony region of the Upper Harz Mountains in Northern Germany, which in recent years has been characterized by severe flood events, but also by previously unknown periods of low water and bottlenecks in the drinking water supply. At the same time, the existing dams and the underground infrastructure from former mining offer potential for the development of pumped storage capacities that could be used to stabilize the grid or to produce green hydrogen for the adjacent industrial regions. Given the target system Water quantity management (flood protection and low water elevation) (1), Drinking water production (2), Energy storage and electricity generation (3) this paper describes how project alternatives are generated under the geological conditions of a low mountain range and its foothills. The target system for evaluating infrastructure alternatives at different locations should also include construction costs (4) and the associated consumption of natural resources (5), such as in the area of flora and fauna. Moreover, it analyses, how these alternatives can be evaluated in the course of a collective decision-making process. Since the benefits arising are multidimensional and cannot simply be quantified and offset against one another using market data and NPV-estimates, the decision-making process of the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used for the evaluation. The knowledge gained in the project can be used very well for future real investment projects for several reasons. First, the weighting of the target structure can be made transparent with this method. It can be shown, for example, how the ranking of the alternatives changes when the weightings are changed. Secondly, due to its participatory aspects, this procedure can be used for communication, for example in the course of citizen participation procedures.

Keywords: Water management, Infrastructure, Coupled eco-services, Electricity storage, Supply security, Multi-attributive-decision-making, AHP.

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