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Complementary use of different energy supply concepts as a motor to drive social acceptance and individual participation in the transformation to a robust energy system – developing an integrated supply scenario

Initial situation and research questions

Since the catastrophe in Fukushima at the latest, support for Germany’s energy transition is greater than ever – and many are in favour switching to renewable energies. But this enthusiasm quickly disappears when it comes to making concrete changes. Very few want a wind park or power lines in their backyard and modern technologies such as smart meters are viewed with scepticism.

The energy transition can only be successful, though, if citizens accept this far-reaching transformation – in their own living environments as well.

KomMA-P aims to define the conditions under which people would be willing to accept and support the energy transition. The underlying idea is that citizens need to have access to options for participating in the change process if they are to support it. To date participation has only been possible for someone willing to invest money and purchase shares in a wind park or biogas plant, for example, or install solar panels on their roof. Anyone lacking the necessary capital or interest in investing is excluded. So the central research question is: What low-threshold opportunities and instruments are needed so that citizens can participate in the energy transition and thus understand and accept it better?

Project goals and implementation

The research project goal is to design action plans for decision-makers from politics, civil society and the private sector. They will be given approaches for implementing energy schemes designed to meet need and local conditions. These will not only be technically and financially feasible, but will also involve local people and generate their support. To this end, the project links technical and economic energy transition models with socio-scientific research on acceptance and participation.

One question the research project explores is the extent to which technical solutions on the one hand and opportunities for participation on the other are linked and depend on each other. Unlike technically simple and cost-optimized energy transition scenarios, this research project emphasizes energy transition models that citizens are willing to accept and in which they can participate more fully.

The true acceptance and participation potential of the different technical options is empirically determined using socio-scientific methods such as field tests, representative questionnaires and stakeholder dialogues. The results are then entered into the PowerACE simulation model developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for System and Innovation Research ISI.

Industry partners – suppliers, service providers and stakeholders from the energy and environmental sectors – collaborate in developing and testing scenarios. Such as Stadtwerken Wunsiedel, a public utilities company that was involved in testing the “Energy Box”, a mini power station that can generate electricity and heat for a number of households. We are working with Energiewende GmbH, an energy provider, to organise the “Visualising Energy Flow” pilot project. It visualises where energy comes from and how it is used, and is intended to raise consumers’ awareness and motivate then to use energy more consciously.

KomMA-P integrates different scientific disciplines and perspectives on the energy transition and brings skills from research and practice together. This interdisciplinary cooperation is a decisive factor in the success of the research project.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Project partners: Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE (project coordination)

Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, Competence Center Energy Policy and Energy Markets

Westfälische Wilhelms University, Department of Political Science, International Relations and Development Policy
Project duration: 01.07.2013 – 30.06.2016
Project staff: Marco Sonnberger, M.A. (project leader ZIRIUS)
Dr. Michael Ruddat
Contact: Marco Sonnberger

Project website: http://www.energiewende-akzeptanz.de

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