Energy Economic Research at UFZ

Our Approach

Energy economic research at UFZ is closely connected with the environmental and sustainability aspects of energy policy. Our applied research specifically focuses on the current challenges of both Germany’s Energiewende and European energy policy. We analyze energy and environmental policy from an economic perspective and within the context of a world characterized by the simultaneity of various political goals, multiple market failures, institutional path dependencies and politico-economic restrictions of regulation.

We conduct our research in an interdisciplinary context. Within UFZ we cooperate closely with our colleagues from the departments Environmental and Planning Law, Ecological Modelling and Bioenergy. Our research partners include the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ), the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), and the Stiftung Umweltenergierecht (foundation environmental energy law).

Our Research Topics

Our Methods

Current Projects

Publications and Team

Our Research

Prof. Gawel's comments on the German government's climate policy:

Klimapolitik in Zeiten der GroKo – ein Politikversagen wird besichtigt, ZUR 29(3), 129-130.
Neustart der Klimapolitik erforderlich, ifo-Schnelldienst 71(1), 8-10.

Article on the German energy transition:

20 Jahre EEG: Ist das Förderende für alte Anlagen ein Problem für die Energiewende?, Wirtschaftsdienst 97(10), 727-732.

Fotobanner Energieformen

Our Research Topics

Market and system integration of renewable energies

The growing share of volatile renewable energies raises questions regarding the assurance of cost-effectiveness and security of electricity supply. In this context, we analyze options for further development of the current support scheme for renewables, for instance by introducing direct marketing and tendering. In addition, we investigate to what extent the electricity system needs to be managed differently so as to account for the challenges posed by renewables, e. g. in the fields of capacity mechanisms, grid regulation and use of flexibility options.

Federative energy policy

The relation between Germany’s Energiewende and European integration yields multiple tensions. At the same time, there may be potential for synergies. Core questions are whether a European integration of national energy policies is already in progress and what kind of energy policy harmonization/convergence would make sense from an economic point of view. Moreover, we analyze issues relating to the coordination of the energy transition policy between the federal government and the states (Bundesländer).

  • Strunz, S., Gawel, E., Purkus, A.: European Energy Governance Landscapes – Energy-related Pressures on Ecosystem Services. In: Schröter, M. et al. (eds.): Atlas of Ecosystem Services: Drivers, Risks, and Societal Responses. Springer, forthcoming.
  • Strunz, S., Gawel, E.: Energy Policies in the EU – A Fiscal Federalism Perspective. In: Knodt, M., Kemmerzell, J. (eds.): Handbook of Energy Governance in Europe. Springer, forthcoming.
  • Strunz, S., Gawel, E., Lehmann, P., Söderholm, P. (2018): Policy convergence as a multi-faceted concept: The case of renewable energy policies in the EU. Journal of Public Policy, 38(3): 361-387.
  • Gawel, E., Strunz, S. (2016): Dezentrale Energiepolitik – Eine fiskalföderalistische Perspektive für den deutschen Stromsektor. Vierteljahreshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung 85 (4), 29-40.
  • Strunz, S., Gawel, E., Lehmann, P. (2016): The political economy of renewable energy policies in Germany and the EU. Utilities Policy 42, 33-41.
  • Strunz, S., Gawel, E. (2016): Importabhängigkeit und Energiewende – ein neues Risikofeld der Versorgungssicherheit? ifo-Schnelldienst 69 (15), 3-8.
  • Strunz, S., Gawel, E., Lehmann, P. (2015): Towards a general “Europeanization” of EU Member States’ energy policies? Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy 4 (2), 143-159.
  • Gawel, E., Strunz, S. (2014): State Aid Dispute on Germany’s Support for Renewables: Is the Commission on the Right Course? Journal for European Environmental and Planning Law 11 (2), 139-152.
  • Gawel, E., Strunz, S., Lehmann, P. (2014): Wieviel Europa braucht die Energiewende? Zeitschrift für Energiewirtschaft 38, 163-182.

Environmental compatibility of the Energiewende

Until now the Energiewende has been viewed by environmental policy mainly from a climate protection perspective. New ecological conflicts, emerging from the construction and operation of renewable energy plants and complementary infrastructure (grids, storage) have received only little attention in political debates so far. In this context, intra-ecological trade-offs may arise, e. g. between the protection of environment, species, water and climate. We systemize these trade-offs from an economic point of view and analyze instruments that might solve these issues. Both existing and possible new instruments are investigated as suitable alternatives.

Spatial organization of the Energiewende

The rapid expansion of renewables goes along with growing spatial demand. It thus requires concepts for “optimizing” spatial allocation of power stations and complementary infrastructure. With regard to spatial distribution of power stations and grids, many trade-offs must be taken into consideration. On this basis, we address emerging local opposition as a challenge for a sustainable energy system. Our research goal is the dynamic solution or minimization of spatial trade-offs via spatially explicit instruments of energy or land use policy.

  • Korte, K., Gawel, E. (2018): Räumliche Koordination im liberalisierten Strommarkt: angemessene Anreize für die Einspeisung. Spatial coordination of generation and network in a liberalised power market: adequate incentives for power feed-in. Wirtschaftsdienst – Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik 98 (1), 60-67.
  • Lienhoop, N. (2018): Acceptance of wind energy and the role of financial and procedural participation: An investigation with focus groups and choice experiments. Energy Policy 118, 97-105.
  • Lauf, T., Ek, K., Gawel, E., Lehmann, P., Söderholm, P. (2018): The Regional Heterogeneity of Wind Power Deployment: An Empirical Investigation of Land-use Policies in Germany and Sweden. UFZ Discussion Paper 1/2018, Leipzig: Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. (664 KB)
  • Eichhorn, M., Tafarte, P., Thrän, D. (2017): Towards energy landscapes – “Pathfinder for sustainable wind power locations”. Energy 134: 611-621.
  • Korte, K., Gawel, E. (2016): Regional differenzierte Netzentgelte als Auslaufmodell? Energiewirtschaftliche Tagesfragen 66 (1/2), 61-65.
  • Gawel, E., Korte, K., Singer, J. (2015): Flächennutzung und erneuerbare Energien zwischen Wirtschaftsförderung, Nachhaltigkeit und effizienter Raumallokation, in: Lempp, J. et al. (eds.): Aktuelle Herausforderungen in der Wirtschaftsförderung. Konzepte für eine positive regionale Entwicklung. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 119-125.
  • Gawel, E., Korte, K. (2015): Regionale Verteilungswirkungen und Finanzierungsverantwortung: Bund und Länder bei der Strom-Energiewende, in: Müller, Th., Kahl, H. (eds.): Energiewende im Föderalismus (Schriften zum Umweltenergierecht, Bd. 18). Baden-Baden: Nomos, 143-184.

Distribution effects of the Energiewende

The Energiewende alters energy provision in several ways. It creates new stakeholders and leads to novel structures of generation capacities, as well as changing cash flows and value added chains. There are controversial discussions about the resulting distributive effects, especially as regards personnel, sectoral and regional allocations. These effects evoke criticism of support for renewables in general and the specific support scheme in particular. In our research we investigate if these distributive effects really result due to the promotion of renewables. We classify and assess the effects from an economic point of view and analyze if and which kind of politicy intervention might be warranted.

Mix of environmental and energy policy instruments

Practice-oriented analyses of environmental and energy policy must comprise interdependencies between different instruments effective at the same time. One focus of our research is on the interactions between European emissions trading and national support schemes for renewables. Moreover, we look at the energy and electricity taxes, the German Renewable Energy Act and the regulatory instruments in the grid sector with respect to their potential to form a coherent policy mix.

  • Gawel, E., Strunz, S. (2018): On the Effectiveness of Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act. European Energy and Environmental Law Review 27 (5): 188-200.
  • Gawel, E. (2018): Neustart der Klimapolitik erforderlich. ifo-Schnelldienst 71 (1), 8-10.
  • Gawel, E. (2018): Klimapolitik in Zeiten der GroKo – ein Politikversagen wird besichtigt. Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht 29 (3), 129-130.
  • Strunz, S. (2018): Speeding up the energy transition. Nature Sustainability (News and Views) 1, 390-391.
  • Horschig, T., Adams, P.W.R., Gawel, E., Thrän, D. (2018): How to decarbonize the natural gas sector: A dynamic simulation approach for the market development estimation of renewable gas in Germany. Appl. Energy 213, 555-572.
  • Lehmann, P., Söderholm, P. (2018): Can Technology-Specific Deployment Policies Be Cost-Effective? The Case of Renewable Energy Support Schemes. Environmental and Resource Economics 71 (2), 475-505.
  • Gawel, E., Lehmann, P., Purkus, A., Söderholm, P., Witte, K. (2017): Rationales for Technology-Specific Renewable Energy Support and their Relevance for Germany. Energy Policy 102, 16-26.
  • Gawel, E., Strunz, S., Lehmann, P. (2017): Support policies for renewables. Instrument choice and instrument change from a Public Choice perspective. In: Arent, D. et al. (eds.): The Political Economy of Clean Energy Transitions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 80-99.
  • Gawel, E., Lehmann, P., Purkus, A., Söderholm, P., Strunz, S. (2017): Political Economy of Safe-guarding Security of Supply with High Shares of Renewables. Review of Existing Research and Lessons from Germany. Research report. Energiforsk, Stockholm.
  • Lehmann, P., Gawel, E., Korte, K., Purkus, A. (2017): 20 Jahre EEG: Ist das Förderende für alte Anlagen ein Problem für die Energiewende? Wirtschaftsdienst 97 (10), 727-732.
  • Lehmann, P., Gawel, E., Purkus, A., Söderholm, P. (2017): Ist eine technologiespezifische Erneuerbaren-Förderung wirklich ineffizient? Energiewirtschaftliche Tagesfragen 67(5), 19-24.
  • Purkus, A., Gawel, E., Thrän, D. (2017). Addressing Uncertainty in Decarbonisation Policy Mixes – Lessons Learned from German and European Bioenergy Policy. Energy Research & Social Science, 33, 82-94.
  • Gawel, E., Bedtke, N. (2016): Große Transformationen aus Sicht der Institutionenökonomik und der Neuen Politischen Ökonomik, in: Held, M. et al. (eds.): Politische Ökonomik großer Transformationen (= Normative und institutionelle Grundfragen der Ökonomik, Jahrbuch 15). Marburg: Metropolis, 287-322.
  • Gawel, E., Purkus, A. (2015): Die Rolle von Energie- und Strombesteuerung im Kontext der Energiewende. Zeitschrift für Energiewirtschaft 39 (2), 77-103.
  • Rodi, M., Gawel, E., Purkus, A., Seeger, A. (2016): Energiebesteuerung und die Förderziele der Energiewende. Der Beitrag von Energie- und Stromsteuern zur Förderung von erneuerbaren Energien, Energieeffizienz und Klimaschutz. Steuer und Wirtschaft 93 (2), 187-199.
  • Gawel, E., Strunz, S., Lehmann, P. (2016): Support Policies for Renewables – Instrument Choice and Instrument Change from a Public Choice Perspective. WIDER Working Paper Series 2016/6, United Nations University, Helsinki.
  • Gawel, E., Purkus, A., Bruttel, F. (2016): Auktionen als Förderinstrument für erneuerbare Energien. Erfahrungen mit den Ausschreibungsrunden 2015 nach FFAV und Implikationen für die Weiterentwicklung im EEG 3.0. Zeitschrift für das gesamte Recht der Energiewirtschaft (EnWZ) 5 (4), 153-159.
  • Bruttel, F., Purkus, A., Gawel, E. (2016): Auktionen als Förderinstrument für erneuerbare Energien – eine institutionenökonomische Bewertung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Photovoltaik-Freiflächenausschreibungsverordnung. UFZ-Bericht 1/2016. Leipzig: UFZ.

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Theory and methodology

Our analyses draw on New Institutional Economics, especially the Theory of Transaction Cost Economics, New Political Economy, the Theory of Institutional Change, the Theory of Agency, the Property Rights Theory and the Economic Analysis of Law. Furthermore we apply theories and methods of environmental and energy economics, regulatory economics, public economics, regional economics and ecological economics. We use both quantitative and qualitative methods in our research. On the quantitative side, we deploy agent-based modelling and econometric analyses. In addition, we adapt partial equilibrium models and non-technical analyses.

Current Projects

Sustainable deployment of renewable energies with multiple environmental impacts − Policy strategies to address ecological trade-offs of the energy transition (MultiplEE)

Electricity grids in a sustainable energy system: an institutional economic investigation of energy grid regulation against the background of energy political goals in Germany (dissertation) (ENERGY-TRANS)

Environmental compatibility of the Energiewende – ecological and social trade-offs of a sustainable transformation of the energy supply systems (dissertation) (University of Leipzig, Institute for Infrastructure and Resources management)

Economic Analysis of Sustainable Spatial Allocations of Energy Systems – A Theoretical Examination and an Agent-Based Model of Renewable Energy Systems (dissertation) (Helmholtz Association)

Ökonomische Analyse der räumlichen Allokation erneuerbarer Energien und komplementärer Infrastrukturen (dissertation) (University of Leipzig, Institute for Infrastructure and Resources management)

Drivers of bioenergy production and their transregional effects (dissertation)

Posts on scientific blogs:

List of blog posts on energy economics