Sustainable regional development
Energy autarky is presented as a conceptual framework for implementing sustainable regional development based on the transformation of the energy subsystem. It is conceptualized as a situation in which the energy services used for sustaining local consumption, local production and the export of goods and services are derived from locally renewable energy resources. Technically, the implementation of higher degrees of energy autarky rests on increasing energy efficiency, realizing the potential of renewable energy resources and relying on a decentralized energy system. Practically, a transition towards regional energy autarky requires administrations and civil society actors to initialize and develop projects at the local level, ensure their acceptance and support by the regional population and implement the project in collaboration with relevant actors. Besides the description of the concept and the benefits its implementation brings, this article provides a process for implementation, and some examples from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.