Energy Transition North Rhine-Westphalia (2015-2017)

Energy Transition North Rhine-Westphalia (2015-2017)


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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.


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:

  1. Where and how can social innovations inspire the energy transition?
  2. What might be new forms of participation and what is their basis? On which social narratives do they base? Which narratives are viable?
  3. How can a multilevel approach be processed so that it serves as a guiding construct for the energy transition?
  4. How can practical ideas and impact(s) be achieved on this basis?

Originating Entities and Funding

TU Dortmund/Sozialforschungsstelle (sfs), Bergische Universität WuppertalWuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI).

Participant Recruitment and Selection

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. These examples include also the people who worked on those and are also participants in the project. So this project was less about finding new participants rather than looking and trying to find already existing structures, initiatives and actors - in project manner so called "social innovations".

Methods and Tools Used

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:

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Events like a project start workshop and a project closing event have been done.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Database of "Energy-political citizen participation in North-Rhine Westphalia": (currently inoperative, working on solution)

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!

Secondary Sources


External Links

Project homepage:



Case Data


General Issue(s): 


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


Other: Intended Purpose(s): 


Start Date: 
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
End Date: 
Friday, March 31, 2017
Number of Meeting Days: 
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Who paid for the project or initiative?: 
Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (MKW)
Who was primarily responsible for organizing the initiative?: 
Type of Organizing Entity: 
Other: Organizing Entity: 
Wuppertal Institut für Klima
Energie gGmbH
Who else supported the initiative? : 
Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI); Bergische Universität Wuppertal
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