A research initiative to plan and implement various participatory processes to direct North Rhine-Westphalia's transition to clean energy.
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Problems and Purpose
The project "Energy Transition North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) - Citizens shape the conversion of the energy system” belongs to the research cluster “Governance & Participation” and is part of the Virtual Institute (VI) “Transformation – Energy Transition NRW”. The project idea is based on a participation-oriented implementation of the energy transition in North Rhine-Westphalia under consideration of a multi-level perspective.
A succesful and sustainable energy transition is only possible if social institutional innovations (the civil society) are involved and considerated in the overall processes of tansition and decision-making. The tranformation needs an translation into the logic of the economy and the living environment of the people.
At this point there are just a view strategies for a systematic involvement and distribution of everyday strategies and activities for the citizens possible. In order to make it possible to contribute solutions for problems and challenges in handling the energy transition the circumstances must be more convenient.
Background History and Context
The German energy transition influences various spheres of life of citizens in North Rhine-Westphalia. For example, the energy transition bases on technological developments, policy frameworks or new business strategies, user practices and lifestyles. The analysis of these complex changes, i.e. transitions, is embedded into transition research, where transitions are analyzed using the multi-level perspective. Since transitions mirror radical and structural changes on a regime, the question arises how transitions find their way from niche to the implementation in regime. The multi-level perspective encompasses various forms of transitions and helps to answer this exact question, for example, how new user practices are established.
So far, concepts such as social innovations, narratives and “field tests” (Real-Labore) were not included in the multi-level perspective, moreover, there are only limited research approaches in these fields, especially with regard to the energy transition in North Rhine-Westphalia. The implementation of the project thus fills a gap in research and meets the specific political-cultural nature of North Rhine-Westphalia. This is also reflected in the implementation of the project idea, which is processed in a research design that puts empirical and theoretical work into relation and includes practical tests. The leading research questions are:
- Where and how can social innovations inspire the energy transition?
- What might be new forms of participation and what is their basis? On which social narratives do they base? Which narratives are viable?
- How can a multilevel approach be processed so that it serves as a guiding construct for the energy transition?
- How can practical ideas and impact(s) be achieved on this basis?
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
TU Dortmund/Sozialforschungsstelle (sfs), Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) supported this initiative.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
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Methods and Tools Used
During the project various examples of social innovations have been identified and analysed. Examples like the "Stromsparcheck" (engl. Power saving check) or the "KlimaTour Eifel" (engl. ClimateTour Eifel) have been studied.
As part of the project the concept of "Supplements" has been developed. It comprises how Rebound-Effects can be avoided. Supplements could function like a "reward system" to avoid these Rebound-Effects. These can come up if there is an energy saving (e.g. heat energy) but then the saved money is spend on something else CO2-emiting/-producing. Which means that the saving effect fizzles out - no saving effect. Sometimes there is even more CO2-production.
The aim of the concepts of Supplements is to create a higher identification with the Energy Transition. To reach this aim the concept of the Supplements was developed with project and practical partners for the targeted group of low-income households.
Multilevel Perspective or Multilevel-Approach: needs still work
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Database of "Energy-political citizen participation in North-Rhine Westphalia": http://www.vi-transformation.de/gp_project_energydatabase/list.php
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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Project homepage: http://www.vi-transformation.de/cluster-gp/
Lead image: Paul Nick, ZIM Medien-Service, Bergische Universität Wuppertal https://goo.gl/DgzMXZ