The expansion of renewable energies (RE) has impacts on several sectors and actors in the national economy. The project ImpRES (Impact of Renewable Energy Sources) aims to make a comprehensive and systemic analysis of these different impacts.
The impacts are divided into three categories:
System-related costs and benefits include all the direct and indirect costs of RE expansion associated with direct or indirect resource consumption. The direct costs cover the resources needed to construct and operate an installation, while the indirect costs represent the costs of integration, especially infrastructure costs such as grids and storage. The system-related costs and benefits of renewable energies are always weighed up in comparison with an energy supply without forced RE expansion and determined independently of which actors will have to bear the costs of this. They can be aggregated in one figure and compared with the benefits. Benefits result especially from conserving resources and avoiding environmental damages.
Distributional and price effects do not represent macroeconomic resource consumption in themselves, but show, for example, the costs of RE expansion to be borne by individual actors. Distributional effects can be illustrated as debits or credits for individual groups of actors or the state, but they cannot simply be summed up to an overall figure. These remaining costs are also referred to as the microeconomic cost increases or decreases of RE utilization. In addition, price effects can occur from using renewable energies to generate electricity and heat.
Macroeconomic effects concern macroeconomic indicators such as the gross domestic product and its components as well as any change in sectoral and macroeconomic employment. These changes can be measured over time or in comparison to different possible future developments (scenarios). Investments, turnover, imports or sectoral employment are defined as gross effects because they are mostly analysed based on one sector and do not consider macroeconomic adaptation effects – for instance in the wake of price changes or declining investments in other sectors. Macroeconomic net effects can only be derived from comparing two future developments, where one contains RE expansion and the other does not. This is why macroeconomic models which illustrate the varied, economic interrelations between actors and economic branches as comprehensively as possible are needed to estimate the macroeconomic net effects of RE expansion alongside statistics and company surveys.
Because the increased deployment of RE is mainly being driven by politics at present, the analysis of distributional effects is essential. This is where the project’s focus lay.
ImpRES covers a period from 2012 to 2016 and is being sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The partners in this joint project are the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW Berlin), the Institute of Economic Structures Research (GWS mbH) and IZES gGmbH (Institut für ZukunftsEnergieSysteme gGmbH).