KWI – Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Intitut Essen, KWI)

Project Virtual Institute (VI): Energiewende.NRW – Bürger gestalten den Umbau des Energiesystems

Overall Coordination: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Howaldt (TU Dortmund / Social Research Centre (sfs))
Project Management KWI: Dr. Steven Engler and Prof. Dr. Claus Leggewie

Cooperating Partner: Social Research Centre – Central Scientific Institute of Technische Universität Dortmund (sfs); University of Wuppertal (UW); Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (WI)
Funded by: Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research (MIWF)
Duration: 04/2015 – 03/2017

The project "Energiewende.NRW – Bürger gestalten den Umbau des Energiesystems” 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.

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?