Climate Change and Structural Vulnerability of a Metropolitan Energy System

The Case of Bremen-Oldenburg in Northwest Germany


  • Stefan Gößling-Reisemann,

    Corresponding author
    • Address correspondence to: Stefan Gößling-Reisemann, University of Bremen, Enrique-Schmidt-Straße 7, 28359 Bremen, Germany. Email:, Web:

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  • Jakob Wachsmuth,

  • Sönke Stührmann,

  • Arnim von Gleich


In this article, we present methodology and results of a vulnerability assessment of the energy system of the metropolitan region Bremen-Oldenburg in Northwest Germany.

This work is part of the regional climate adaptation project “nordwest2050” aiming at innovative solutions toward a climate-proof and resilient region. Methodologically, we extended the established vulnerability assessment based on climate change impacts by a structural analysis, highlighting general weaknesses of the metropolitan energy system. Our findings indicate that the structural vulnerabilities of the energy system around Bremen-Oldenburg pose a greater threat to maintaining the system's services than climate change itself. Climate-change–based vulnerabilities, however, aggravate many of the structural vulnerabilities and therefore demand attention in their own right. The structural vulnerabilities mainly originate from political and regulatory uncertainties, turbulent market conditions, conflicts along the supply chains, and the current dynamics in the energy sector induced by increased climate mitigation efforts. One of our main conclusions is thus that the metropolitan energy system's capabilities to handle turbulence, perturbations, and surprises must be improved. This will also help in reducing the climate-change vulnerabilities, because such a system is better equipped when facing currently hard-to-predict changes in climate parameters. The results of the assessment described here will be used as the starting point to find options for innovations toward a climate-proof and resilient energy system for the region in the course of the remaining project.