EnerTransRuhr - Cultural Mapping of the Energy Turnaround in the Ruhr Region

EnerTransRuhr - Cultural Mapping of the Energy Turnaround in the Ruhr Region


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Problems and Purpose

The project EnerTransRuhr analyses and developes strategies for the German Energy Transition with a focus on increasing energy efficiency in buildings in the Ruhr Area cities like Bottrop, Dortmund and Oberhausen. It is part of a joint project in collaboration with the project leader Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH

Integrating the various individual projects (observed during this project) is achieved via an agent-based model (ABM). This model provides a common language for grasping the variety of influencing factors of energetic refurbishment strategies. Real-world experiments, in this case "living labs", where users test concrete strategies, and "governance experiments", where management and incentive strategies are being tested, are used to inform the process of further developing and optimising the ABM.

The project provides a conceptual and methodical framework by which the “Energiewende” can be analysed and scientifically accompanied in an integrative way.

History and Background

The energy turnaround is not only a technological challenge but also an eminently political one in that its democratic legitimation requires a high degree of social mobilisation. Using methods of qualitative, ethnographic social research the KWI-subproject "Cultural Mapping of the Energy Turnaround in the Ruhr Region" is looking for frictions and connections between externally induced innovative processes and the living environment by referring back to the notion of "change agents".

These citizens - change agents - contribute with their actions significantly to the energy transition (in the Ruhr Area). 

Originating Entities and Funding

Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI) and the Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH. The project was funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF).

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Change Agents have been recruited to participate in a participatory workshop with scientist/researchers from the project. Aim was to gather and discuss with the people from these innovative and voluntarily projects with various backgrounds who promote related engagements in the cities of the Ruhr Area.

Methods and Tools Used

Over the course of the project the four phases of the transition cycle are covered: (1) an integrative system analysis, which includes energetic and resource implications of building refurbishment as well as a cultural mapping, in order to evaluate the cultural dimension of the energy transition, (2) vision development, (3) concrete real-world experiments, and (4) developing strategies for the diffusion of successful approaches.

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Workshop (23.01.2016) with the topic "Innovative. Sustainable. Ruhr Region? Citizens create the Energy Transition on-site".
Participants: Change Agents
Questions to be discussed:

  • How can the citizens be motivated/nudged in their city/district to start a unconscious change of daily behaviour or are informative actions needed?
  • What is more expedient? That the citizens change their behaviour autonomously or should the city administration create the conditions?

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The results of the workshop with the Change Agents:

- Stabilizing innovative engagaments: The cities or district administrations should provide the possibilities that the innovative (Change Agents) projects could continue and have the chance to get establieshed in a long-term perspective. It is often that initiatives stumble on to way to get stable.

- Appreciate engagaments: The city wants engaged citizens? Then it should advertise at the local economy and at actors like labor unions oder chambers of commerce. A lot of employers lack understanding about voluntary engagement although it gets more important in these times.

- Strengthening of unemployment benefit receivers: Financially weak citizens do not count to the circle of people with a high resource consumption. They are often restricted in their contributions to a sustainable urban society: living in energy-efficient is often too expensive and they are less mobile.

- Bicycle culture: Bicycle lanes are an important location factor, but a lot of the municipalities in the Ruhr Region let the money flow in different areas. The cities should going on to work together to improve the network for the bicycle traffic in the region. Also with the help of small project, e.g. load bicycles.

- "It's getting green... soon!": More urban gardening gardens should be planted. Former railway lines like the High Line in NYC should be used and transformed into green public spaces with gardening aspect for local food production for example - "edible cities".

- Away with the throwaway society: Repair-Cafés are popular and can be found in a lot of cities in the Ruhr Area. They are attractive for people with a low income. The cities could help to provide room and organise more dates where they can take place.

- Meeting spot for all: The district library was renovated and supplemented with an Repair-Café and a normal café. This changes the former library into a place for encounters and exchange between people from the district.

- New mobility as fun factor: Part of the younger generation are not that interested anymore in "old-fashioned" mobility like cars. There is more interest in technical and digital innovations - more bike-friendlyness for example. A better public transport network, linked mobility possibilities and a infrastructure which is not only based on the car. bike- and car-sharing offers for free or affordable.

- City network: More possibilities in times of digital gadgets to meet and engage with the neighbours in a district. More places for a personal encounter.

- Enhance the interest to create "Aha effects": Especially younger people could be fascinated if there is the right aha effect. Moire is needed than often senseless awareness campaigns. Personal references are important! how do distinctive techniques or procedureswork? How effective are they? Changes of behaviour can be sustainable. To reach that it is important to work on all levels.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

It is not easy to find so called "Change Agents" (Agenten des Wandels) for a research project because these people are often not popular or have positions in institutions as decision-makers. Change Agents could be everybody - a pensioner, a educator/eacher or a building contractor. Change Agents are mostly locally anchored and networked, individually in their work/engagament and sometimes even not aware of their role in the Energy Transition process. However, Change Agtens are crucial when it comes to support the processof the Energy Transition from a bottom-up perspective.

Secondary Sources

Publication (in German): Sophia Schönborn, Stefan Schweiger (2016), "Innovativ. Nachhaltig. Ruhrpott? BürgerInnen gestalten die Energiewende vor Ort. Ein Resümee für EntscheiderInnen"

Final report (in German) of the joint project: https://epub.wupperinst.org/frontdoor/index/index/docId/6874

External Links

Project homepage KWI (in German): http://www.kwi-nrw.de/home/projekt-114.html

Project homepahe KWI (in English): http://www.kulturwissenschaften.de/en/home/project-91.html

Joint project homepage (in German): https://wupperinst.org/p/wi/p/s/pd/464/

Joint project homepage (in English): https://wupperinst.org/en/p/wi/p/s/pd/464/





Ruhr Region, North Rhine-Westphalia Ruhr Region, North Rhine-Westphalia , NW
Nordrhein-Westfalen DE


Was war der verfolgte Zweck?: 
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Sonntag, September 1, 2013
Dienstag, Februar 28, 2017
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