„STEEP“ EVALUATION OF TECHNOLOGICAL AND RESOURCE ALTERNATIVES FOR CARBON FEEDSTOCK TO SUPPORT A RAW MATERIALS TRANSITION IN THE GERMAN INDUSTRY

The transition towards a sustainable low carbon economy is fraught with multiple challenges. The BMBF research group STEEP-CarbonTrans utilizes a comprehensive social-technical-economical-ecological-political (STEEP) approach to investigate how a raw materials transition in the Germany industry could look like, which alternative raw materials could be utilized and what the consequences for the energy and raw material systems would be.

Major global changes ranging from population growth, shifts in economic growth, decarbonisation efforts to technological breakthroughs have led to a rapid increase in global demand for natural resources and raw materials. Confronted with conditions such as climate change, increasing scarcity of water and natural resources, and the globalization of production and trade, political and industry decision-makers face the challenging task of promoting technological innovations that will pave the path for a low-carbon economy while ensuring that raw material supplies to their nation’s industry remain competitive yet secure.

The need to balance between considerations of competitiveness, supply security, sustainability and public acceptance have led to a complex decision environment. In addition to obtaining an overview of the social-technological-economic-environmental-political (STEEP) components in their carbon value chains, decision-makers also have to estimate and evaluate wide-ranging and unanticipated consequences to their raw materials decisions. The objective of the STEEP-CarbonTrans research group is to utilize a systemic approach drawing on concepts/methodologies from both social sciences and technical disciplines to develop comprehensive STEEP methods/tools for evaluating technological and resource chains representing viable carbon feedstock alternatives for the industry to produce value-added products. Its goal is to facilitate a better understanding of the raw materials system as a social-technical system and to provide specific recommendations to support decision-making and measures development for a transition to a competitive, low-carbon, secure and sustainable raw materials management in the German industry.

STEEP-CarbonTrans is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under its “Nachwuchsgruppen Globaler Wandel” program for a period of 5 years (2017 - 2022) with 2.035 million €. A key objective of the program is the professional development and further qualification of young scientists. The research group is integrated in the Technology Assessment Division at the Institute of Energy Process Engineering and Chemical Engineering, TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

 

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