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TA-Database-Newsletter No. 3, September 2001, online available [27.09.2001]

The focal theme of this issue is devoted to "Renewable Energy Resources". The role of renewable energy resources for sustainable energy supply was discussed in a workshop organised by Verbundprojekt "Global zukunftsfähige Entwicklung - Perspektiven für Deutschland" (Globally sustainable development - Perspective for Germany) of the Hermann von Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft (HGF) of German research establishments with representatives from science and industry in Munich, November 2000. The contributions in this focal theme are based on the results and discussions of this meeting. The sequence of the contributions is as follows: First, the global problems and challenges of a sustainable energy supply are outlined and the "integrative concept" of sustainable development formulated within the framework of the HGF-project is presented. Subsequently, the technical potentials for the generation of electricity and heating on the basis of the whole range of renewable energy resources are described using an "orientation scenario". This overall presentation is followed by separate articles analysing the state-of-the-art and the perspectives of the different renewable energy resources considered, i.e. wind energy, biomass, water power, solar energy, photovoltaics and geothermal energy for attaining a sustainable energy sector.

From Belgium the long awaited birth of a Flemish parliamentary TA institute can be announced: the Vlaams Instituut voor Wetenschappelijk en Technologisch Aspectenonderzoek VIWTA (Flemisch Institute for Scientific and Technological Assessment). Two further contributions in the TA institutions section of the journal present the research programmes of two large research establishments. First, the research area socio-economic research of the "Section for economy, sociology and law" of the Umweltforschungszentrum Leipzig-Halle GmbH presents itself, second, the "Technology Scenarios Programme" of Risoe National Laboratory in Denmark is described.

In the TA-projects section, the results of the "ExternE"-project of the European Commission are presented. The project was carried out by a large number of European research establishments during the last 10 years; its focus was on the questions of the external costs of electricity production. Furthermore, a pre-study of the VDI/Association of German Engineers on nano-technology and a study on the future of work by Fraunhofer Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation (Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering), Stuttgart, are presented.

The book reviews section comprises a review of a recent publication on "Innovation strategies and research policy in biotechnology" and a commentary on the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The topics of the conference reports are fuel sludge management in Europe, biological waste treatment, the international congress "Citizenship, the public and democracy in Europe", where new research results and projects were presented; and the 14th congress of the International Association of Sociology in Argentina which dealt with the problem of "Democracy and participation in the new information societies".

In addition to the numerous conference announcements and the News from ITAS a contribution in the discussion forum should also be mentioned which continues the discussion on "TA and industry" of the focal theme of the preceding issue of TA-Datenbank-Nachrichten. Martin Socher, a former member of the Office of Technology Assessment of the German Parliament (TAB) poses the question: "The debate on TA - without a goal and therefore endless?"