DEMOENERGYThe Transformation of the Energy System as the Engine for Democratic Innovations

The exit from nuclear power and the further development of power generation from renewable resources result in the need for optimisation and expansion of electric power lines under enormous time pressure. Further, more and more wind power plants, solar parks, biogas, pump storage and geothermal power plants will be set up all over the country. All these changes within the energy infrastructure will have a wide impact on nature and on people’s living environment; therefore, a high level of understanding and acceptance within society is essential. Consequently, citizens need to be integrated in these processes and discourses about the transformation of the energy system from the very beginning.

The newly started research project “Demoenergy – The Transformation of the Energy System as the Engine for Democratic Innovations” will therefore focus on the relation between the transformation of the energy system and democratic innovations by examining empirically their interconnection. For instance, one question the project aims to answer is: Which are the necessary and sufficient conditions for public participation to work successfully?

The three main fields of research are:

  • The complete mapping of social processes of mobilisation and conflicts regarding the introduction and the expansion of different technologies in Germany (e.g. wind and solar energy parks, pump storage plants, and new electric lines respectively).
  • The analysis and examination of conflicts and discourses which have played an important role in Germany. Further, the project will focus on the course of these conflicts and discourses by extracting their recurrent patterns (e.g. in the case of the implementation of technologies such as Carbon capture and storage (CCS)).
  • The conceptualisation and evaluation of different forms of dialogue-oriented participation of citizens in selected settings concerning the increased construction of electric power transmission lines. The project’s aim is to shed light on the impact those formats and contextual conditions have on the success of processes of public participation.

The results and empirical findings will be fruitfully integrated into the work of the “Transdisciplinary Panel of Energy Change” at the IASS in Potsdam.