Ethics for Energy Technology


EET aims at an ethical evaluation of different energy policies. With respect to energy supply and demand and their impacts on our natural environment and thus on human beings, our objective is to bridge the gap between empirical forecasts on the one hand, and ethical and epistemological evaluations on the other hand. 

  World Model Copyright: © EET - HumTec

A model is developed projecting the impact of future energy supply and demand on human well-being. Thereby our focus is on the “big picture”: Firstly, energy policies are investigated not only as regards, say, their impact on the climate, but also on other areas that affect the lives of people. Secondly, we focus on the global effects on large time scales, i.e. 50 and 100 years.

In quantifying human well-being, our main concern is not only with the preferences humans indeed have, rather we orient ourselves by the United Nations Human Development Index that rests on the welfare-ethical work by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. The work of EET will thus provides not only information on the different impacts different energy policies may have on overall resource consumption and need satisfaction, rather EET aims also at an outline of an ethically sustainable policy.


Integrated Assesment Model

Integrated Assesment Model Copyright: © EET - HumTec Figure 1 - Integrated Assesment Model

A sustainable future energy supply will be modelled in the EET-programme. Other groups have already developed models to describe such global connections which are called “integrated assessment models”. These models show the global connections between population development, consumption of resources, energy supply, land use, climate system and economics, whereby the focus of the research groups differs.

The model, which will be developed in the EET-programme until April 2010, will especially focus on an ethical evaluation, which is often neglected in other models. The structure of the EET-model is shown in Figure 1.

The basis of the model will build global balances. The needs and desires of the population, which are the driving forces of human action, will be modelled by fluxes of material .To satisfy these needs different methods and technologies can be used. Economical influences and the population development (demography) will also be considered. The material fluxes, which are needed to satisfy the needs and desires of the population, lead to a consumption of resources and to changes in the ecosystem. The resources include renewable, non-renewable and variable sources. Variable resources are for example the land area, which can be reduced by soil erosion, or the atmosphere which changes e.g. due to CO2 increase.

Due to the interactions in the model the capabilities of the population change. Capabilites might be the possibility to get clean water or which needs and desired can be satisfied in different regions. These capabilities are the basis for the ethical evaluation.

A model to describe the structure of a possible future energy supply has already been developed. With this model the following questions can be answered: Which energy carrier will be the most important in the future? How could a future energy mix look like? It has also been taken into account that in the future not only energy has to be provided sustainably, but also chemicals have to be produced based on biomass.