Research Focus

View towards the entrance to the Faculty of Economic Sciences.
View towards the entrance to the Faculty of Economic Sciences. Photo: Christian Hüller

Since its foundation in 2005, the Institute for Infrastructure and Resource Management (IIRM) has dedicated its research and teaching in particular to the sustainable planning and operation of technical infrastructure systems for the provision of energy, water, wastewater and waste services. Special topics are the interactions of infrastructure provision with economic and demographic developments, the development of planning and management tools as well as technology development in selected areas. Another topic is the sustainable management of resources such as water, soil, land and energy in different institutional contexts. Particular attention is paid to the effectiveness and efficiency of management institutions and specific management instruments at state, municipal or company level.

A rape field in full bloom.
A rape field in full bloom. Photo: COLOURBOX

The Chair of Biodiversity Economics works to provide scientific foundations that help to shape human-nature relationships in a sustainable way. Research focuses on the sustainable use of natural resources (e.g. marine fish stocks, grasslands, forests) and the protection of biodiversity from regional to global levels. For example, we investigate how economic incentives determine people's behaviour towards nature. We also explore what is necessary to achieve sustainability - in the sense of justice in human-nature relations. This also includes the question of how economic policy instruments could contribute to this goal. Our methodological expertise lies in quantitative ecological-economic modelling, dynamic optimisation, statistics, economic experiments and conceptual modelling, and we also use methods from game theory and capital theory. Our research group is widely networked internationally and works in an interdisciplinary way with researchers from the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences.

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Single rape blossoms.
Single rape blossoms. Photo: COLOURBOX

The focus of the Bioenergy Systems Professorship is on concepts, technologies and management systems for the control of biogenic material and energy systems. Contradictory goals associated with the use of biomass as well as different efficiency aspects (e.g. land use, climate gas savings, energy provision, value creation, etc.) require integrated management systems that can be implemented on different scales, from operational to global. Accordingly, the focus of the research is on linking the fragmentary information available along the process chains towards the development of integrated management systems for the use of biomass in the context of renewable resources.
Against this background, the research programme of the professorship includes methods for the classification of biogenic material and energy flows (system understanding) and the development of approaches for their efficient control, taking into account the technical, economic, ecological and social aspects of the relevant process chains (system design). These questions are researched in particular with the help of the analysis of technical systems (with regard to maturity, cost reduction potential and necessary boundary conditions for successful implementation) and using methods of product-related assessment (LCA) and material flow analysis.

Central research topics:

  • Biomass potentials and sustainability assessment
  • Markets and use of biogenic energy sources
  • Regional utilisation concepts for renewable raw materials
  • Environmental impacts of renewable energies
  • Advanced methods of life cycle analysis and material flow assessment
  • System integration and interaction of renewable energies in supply systems largely based on renewable energies
  • Scenario analyses for renewable raw materials and energy sources

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Smoking vent and rotating wind turbines
Old energy world, new energy world - how can the energy transition succeed? Photo: COLOURBOX

The research activities of the Chair of Energy Management and Sustainability focus on the integrative analysis of the economic, ecological and social aspects associated with the provision of energy services at the operational, municipal, national, European and/or global level. The generally quantitative analysis of the research questions addressed is carried out using innovative energy system models, energy industry market models, agent-based models and integrated assessment models, which have been developed at the Chair and successfully used in a large number of projects to advise energy industry as well as environmental policy decision-makers.

Central research topics:

  • Techno-economic optimisation of decentralised energy systems, virtual power plants and smart grids
  • Integration of renewable energies into existing and future energy systems with special consideration of energy storage systems, power-to-X (e.g. power-to-heat) and load management measures (demand response)
  • Economic evaluation of energy-related business models (in the context of changing energy-economic boundary conditions)
  • Agent-based modelling of urban energy systems
  • Modelling and economic analysis of the development of European energy markets
  • Calculation of future spot market and balancing energy prices in the European electricity market (using fundamental models)
  • Integrated assessment and optimisation of global climate protection strategies (using so-called "integrated assessment" models)
  • Analysis and design of energy and climate policy instruments (incl. policy impact assessment)

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View over Leipzig at night.
View over Leipzig at night. Photo: Fotolia

The research programme of the Chair of Economics, in particular Institutional Environmental Economics, is the analysis of environment-related issues with the help of approaches from New Institutional Economics, in particular transaction cost economics, the theory of institutional change, contract and agency theory, the property rights approach, the economic analysis of law, politics and bureaucracy or information economics. In addition, methods of finance and general environmental economics are used alongside methods of agent-based modelling. Application-oriented questions of international water management, environment-related interface problems in the energy, transport and infrastructure sectors as well as climate change issues are dealt with. Special emphasis is placed on institutions and instruments of environmental policy as well as on ecological-economic modelling.

Central research topics:

  • Economics of climate change, especially climate adaptation
  • Economic aspects of the energy transition and the bioeconomy, especially biomass use
  • Charges and prices for water use
  • Agent-based modelling of land use and infrastructure systems
  • Financing of transport infrastructure
  • Fee and charge solutions for municipal supply and disposal (water, wastewater, waste, other sectors)

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Globe in palm of a hand.
Globe in palm of a hand. Photo: COLOURBOX

The Chair of Environmental Technologies in Water Management and Environmental Management in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises is dedicated to the resources of water, waste and soil, the sustainable and safe operation of pipe systems and environmental management in individual companies and company networks. Fundamental is an interdisciplinary approach that links technical and economic aspects. Approaches from various theoretical fields are used to address the research topics, depending on the issue at hand. Elements of social science approaches such as institutional analysis, business management approaches such as decision theory, overarching approaches such as systems theory and technological innovation models are used.

Central research topics:

  • Cost factors and evaluation of municipal water, wastewater and waste infrastructure
  • Sustainability risks of municipal environmental infrastructure
  • Change management for municipal environmental infrastructure in relation to climate, demography, urban redevelopment and economic structural change
  • Development paths of decentralised technologies and embedding in existing framework conditions
  • Environmental risks and safety of technical facilities and modes of operation
  • Environmental and sustainability management in networks

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Wind turbines in the landscape.
Wind turbines in the landscape. Photo: MultiplEE

Our research focuses on the economic analysis of energy transition policy at national and international level. Our research activities are embedded, among other things, in the junior research group MultiplEE.

The expansion of renewable energies in the electricity sector is essential to achieve Germany's climate protection goals and to advance the energy transition. However, the restructuring of the electricity system also brings (new) challenges. We are investigating how the expansion of renewable energies, and wind energy in particular, can be designed to be as environmentally compatible as possible with respect for people, nature and the landscape.

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Degree programmes

Institute building of the Faculty of Economics.
Hand zeigt mit einem Kugelschreiber auf eine Grafik
High voltage line.
Das Wort „sustainable“ in Kreideschrift auf Tafel

Donors

The Chair of Bioenergy Systems was endowed by the DBFZ (Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum) together with the Helmholz-Center for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ). The holder of the professorship is Prof. Dr.-Ing. Daniela Thrän, who is also Head of the Bioenergy Systems Department at the DBFZ and Head of the Bioenergy Department at the UFZ.

The Chair of Environmental Technologies and Management was endowed by the DBU (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt). The first holder was Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Holländer in 2001, who retired in March 2019. The professorship will be advertised again.

The Chair of Biodiversity Economics was funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) in cooperation with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ). Prof. Dr. Martin Quaas holds the professorship and is also research group leader at the iDiv.

The professorship in Biodiversity Economics was funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsmeieinschaft) in cooperation with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ). Prof. Dr. Martin Quaas holds the professorship and is also research group leader at the iDiv.

The first professorship endowed by the Helmholz-Center for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ) was the Professorship of Economics, in particular Institutional Environmental Economics, whose holder, Prof. Dr. Erik Gawel, is also Head of the Department of Economics at the UFZ.


The Chair of Bioenergy Systems was endowed by the Helmholz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ) together with the DBFZ (Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum). The holder of the professorship is Prof. Dr.-Ing. Daniela Thrän, who is also Head of the Department of Bioenergy at the UFZ and Head of the Bioenergy Systems Division at the DBFZ.

The Forschungsstelle Kommunale Energiewirtschaft (FKE) was founded in 2007 as a joint initiative of Stadtwerke Leipzig GmbH and Verbundnetz Gas AG at the Institute for Infrastructure and Resource Management.

The Chair of Energy Management and Sustainability was established in 2008 by the Stifterverband and Vattenfall Europe GmbH. The holder of the professorship is Prof. Dr. Thomas Bruckner.

The Chair of Energy Management and Sustainability was established in 2008 by Vattenfall Europe GmbH and the Stifterverband. The holder of the professorship is Prof. Dr. Thomas Bruckner.

The Forschungsstelle Kommunale Energiewirtschaft (FKE) was founded in 2007 as a joint initiative of Verbundnetz Gas AG and Stadtwerke Leipzig GmbH at the Institute for Infrastructure and Resource Management.