Sustainable conditions for the development of renewable energy systems : a triple bottom line perspective

Lerman, Laura Visintainer and Benitez, Guilherme Brittes and Gerstlberger, Wolfgang and Picanço Rodrigues, Vinícius and Frank, Alejandro G. (2021) Sustainable conditions for the development of renewable energy systems : a triple bottom line perspective. Sustainable Cities and Society, 75. 103362. ISSN 2210-6707 (

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Renewable energy systems (RES) have been proposed as an effective solution for sustainable development. However, the impact of municipal contextual conditions on the development of RES is still unclear. One of the literature gaps is the lack of understanding of whether the balanced development of economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainability – the triple bottom line (TBL) perspective – can support RES policy. We conducted a quantitative analysis of 727 medium- and large-sized German municipalities to understand whether municipalities should create contextual conditions around the TBL dimensions to support RES policy. Furthermore, we applied a cluster analysis to establish the patterns of RES adoption supported by the TBL. Our results document that advanced adopters of RES are more advanced regarding the economic and environmental aspects of the TBL, and their RES development outperforms in the development of a knowledge-base and social cooperation. In contrast, regions with less RES development primarily emphasize reducing energy dependency and increasing social acceptance. As the main contribution, the study provides a novel view on how sustainability and RES development work together by providing details about the connection between specific TBL dimensions and elements with different maturity levels of RES policy implementation.