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Implementing the Energy Transition
Locally by Increasing Social Acceptance
Findings from the German
interdisciplinary research project
AcceptEE
Dörte Ohlhorst
Bavarian School of Public Policy, Munich
Wind power in Germany
Germany is undergoing a deep transformation of the energy
system
Energiewende characterized by
• phase out of nuclear power plants by 2020
• planned phase out of coal by 2038
• high growth of RES, especially wind power
• growth of decentralized structures
Implementation of local energy projects played key role in this
transformation
Energy Mix in European Electricity Sector
In 2017, 80 % of total installed
windpower capacity in the EU was
installed in just 3 countries: Germany,
the UK and France
Germany installed 42 of the total EU
new installations
Source: WindEurope 2018
Dramatic decline in bids
• Since 2014: tendering model replaced funding scheme with fixed FIT
• latest calls for tender for wind energy: weak participation
• May 2019: 650 MW tendered, only 270 MW awarded - new worrying
dimension of decline
• one of the reasons:
more and more citizens are
resisting wind turbines in their
neighbourhood,
increasingly legal actions taken
Acceptance barriers
• visual impact on landscapes
• noise annoyance including infrasound
• perception of health risks
• local environmental impacts harming local fauna and flora
• negative impact on recreation, tourism, or land and real
estate values
• perceived policy incoherencies, distrust in approval
procedures based on experiences in the past
• perceived procedural or distributional injustice
• lack of community involvement and engagement
Project „Accept Renewables“
AcceptEE,
funded by German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Starting point:
Aspects of nature and environmental compatibility are
increasingly being put forward as arguments against the
expansion of renewable energies.
Aim of the interdisciplinary project:
Analysis of factors that prevent and promote acceptance of the
renewables expansion while considering nature and
environmental compatibility of the “Energiewende”
Attitude towards the energy transition
Local renewable energy projects are more likely to be accepted
• …the more reasonable and consistent the energy transition and
its implementation are perceived,
• …the higher the assessed contributions of renewable energy
plants to climate protection are,
• ...if the plants are embedded in local climate protection or energy
supply concepts,
• …if the local population had the opportunity to participate in the
development of energy and climate protection concepts,
• …if climate protection concepts became part of the local identity.
How to improve the image of the energy transition?
• debate on social costs of the energy transition should clarify the
long-term, societal costs of climate change
• energy transition should be critically examined for its consistency
and better coordinated in the multi-level system
• contribution of renewables to climate protection and – indirectly –
to nature conservation should be better communicated
• Local energy and climate protection concepts should be better
promoted and developed in a participatory manner
Trust in key players
Findings:
• increasing distrust in state actors and short-term-profits-oriented
economic operators, investors, shareholders,
• distrust in approval procedures
• citizens’ interests are perceived to be represented by citizens'
initiatives, environmental and nature conservation associations or
local representatives, mayors, local councils
• local renewable energy projects are more likely to be accepted if
people believe that they contribute to the common good
How to improve trust in key players?
Project developers can create trust…
• …if they voluntarily comply with standards of procedural participation, financial
participation and orientation towards the common good (guidelines for fair wind energy)
• …if they meet quality requirements for transparent communication
• …if they are local
• …if they take responsibility for requirements of nature and species protection
• …if the land securement is transparent, with the involvement of the community, by the
introduction of land-pool models
• …if they voluntarily carry out an environmental impact assessment with public
participation
• …if they contribute to the common good
How to improve trust in key players?
High confidence in the objectives and values of citizen initiatives
and co-operatives
ØThe support of citizens’ energy companies can help to promote
acceptance and trust
Example: Citizen Energy Fund in Schleswig-Holstein
Goals:
• strengthening the participation of citizens in the energy transition
locally
• facilitating the first steps in the planning and start-up phase
through
Øseed funding / reduced financial risks,
Øindependent (legal) advice
Øfinancial support for feasibility studies, site analysis,
profitability calculations, environmental impact assessments
etc.
Guidelines and Label for „fair wind energy“ in
Thuringia
1. Early involvement of all stakeholders in the vicinity of a planned
wind farm during the entire planning phase
2. Transparent handling of project-related information by project
planners on site
3. Fair participation of all persons affected and residents, including
those not directly benefiting as site owners
4. Involvement of regional energy supply companies and financing
institutions
5. Development of financial investment opportunities for
communities, citizens and enterprises.
ØTransferable to other European countries?!
Advisory and intermediary organisations
In many cases, mayors have the ability to integrate and mediate in the
event of conflicting views.
Often, however, there are honorary mayors that tend to be overwhelmed
by the complex planning and approval procedures
Neutral advisory organizations can contribute to more open, constructive
communication and can help the local authorities to have a dialogue at
eye level and to mediate between different interests
Substantiated concerns, NIMBYism or populism?
Often criticism is expression of legitimate concerns
right-wing populists, however, stir up existing frustrations against "ruling elites"
rhetoric reinforces the impression that only elites benefit
-> aggravates distrust in decision makers (and science)
risk of unfair distribution of costs and benefits under-addressed
-> European policymakers should become more involved with the manyfold reasons for
non-acceptance
Wind energy plants should be perceived as a means of
• contributing to the common goods,
• promoting social justice,
• ensuring a healthy environment,
• increasing living standards,
• modernising the economy and
• boosting competitiveness
European Union as game changer?
• according to the EU Commission, almost half of all EU households could be involved in
producing renewable energy by 2050
• 37% could be involved in an energy community
• the concept of “(Renewable) Energy Community” was introduced into the EU legislation
through Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) and the new Electricity Directive in
December 2018
• Both Directives support the development of ‘citizens energy communities’, and assist
citizens that want to participate collectively in the energy transition
Ø legal basis for cooperatives and other community-based energy projects
across Europe ?
Thank you for your attention
Dr. Dörte Ohlhorst
Bavarian School of Public Policy
Chair of Environmental and Climate Policy
Technical University of Munich
http://www.hfp.tum.de/en/home/

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D. Ohlhorst_Keynote

  • 1. Implementing the Energy Transition Locally by Increasing Social Acceptance Findings from the German interdisciplinary research project AcceptEE Dörte Ohlhorst Bavarian School of Public Policy, Munich
  • 2. Wind power in Germany Germany is undergoing a deep transformation of the energy system Energiewende characterized by • phase out of nuclear power plants by 2020 • planned phase out of coal by 2038 • high growth of RES, especially wind power • growth of decentralized structures Implementation of local energy projects played key role in this transformation
  • 3. Energy Mix in European Electricity Sector In 2017, 80 % of total installed windpower capacity in the EU was installed in just 3 countries: Germany, the UK and France Germany installed 42 of the total EU new installations Source: WindEurope 2018
  • 4. Dramatic decline in bids • Since 2014: tendering model replaced funding scheme with fixed FIT • latest calls for tender for wind energy: weak participation • May 2019: 650 MW tendered, only 270 MW awarded - new worrying dimension of decline • one of the reasons: more and more citizens are resisting wind turbines in their neighbourhood, increasingly legal actions taken
  • 5. Acceptance barriers • visual impact on landscapes • noise annoyance including infrasound • perception of health risks • local environmental impacts harming local fauna and flora • negative impact on recreation, tourism, or land and real estate values • perceived policy incoherencies, distrust in approval procedures based on experiences in the past • perceived procedural or distributional injustice • lack of community involvement and engagement
  • 6. Project „Accept Renewables“ AcceptEE, funded by German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation Starting point: Aspects of nature and environmental compatibility are increasingly being put forward as arguments against the expansion of renewable energies. Aim of the interdisciplinary project: Analysis of factors that prevent and promote acceptance of the renewables expansion while considering nature and environmental compatibility of the “Energiewende”
  • 7. Attitude towards the energy transition Local renewable energy projects are more likely to be accepted • …the more reasonable and consistent the energy transition and its implementation are perceived, • …the higher the assessed contributions of renewable energy plants to climate protection are, • ...if the plants are embedded in local climate protection or energy supply concepts, • …if the local population had the opportunity to participate in the development of energy and climate protection concepts, • …if climate protection concepts became part of the local identity.
  • 8. How to improve the image of the energy transition? • debate on social costs of the energy transition should clarify the long-term, societal costs of climate change • energy transition should be critically examined for its consistency and better coordinated in the multi-level system • contribution of renewables to climate protection and – indirectly – to nature conservation should be better communicated • Local energy and climate protection concepts should be better promoted and developed in a participatory manner
  • 9. Trust in key players Findings: • increasing distrust in state actors and short-term-profits-oriented economic operators, investors, shareholders, • distrust in approval procedures • citizens’ interests are perceived to be represented by citizens' initiatives, environmental and nature conservation associations or local representatives, mayors, local councils • local renewable energy projects are more likely to be accepted if people believe that they contribute to the common good
  • 10. How to improve trust in key players? Project developers can create trust… • …if they voluntarily comply with standards of procedural participation, financial participation and orientation towards the common good (guidelines for fair wind energy) • …if they meet quality requirements for transparent communication • …if they are local • …if they take responsibility for requirements of nature and species protection • …if the land securement is transparent, with the involvement of the community, by the introduction of land-pool models • …if they voluntarily carry out an environmental impact assessment with public participation • …if they contribute to the common good
  • 11. How to improve trust in key players? High confidence in the objectives and values of citizen initiatives and co-operatives ØThe support of citizens’ energy companies can help to promote acceptance and trust
  • 12. Example: Citizen Energy Fund in Schleswig-Holstein Goals: • strengthening the participation of citizens in the energy transition locally • facilitating the first steps in the planning and start-up phase through Øseed funding / reduced financial risks, Øindependent (legal) advice Øfinancial support for feasibility studies, site analysis, profitability calculations, environmental impact assessments etc.
  • 13. Guidelines and Label for „fair wind energy“ in Thuringia 1. Early involvement of all stakeholders in the vicinity of a planned wind farm during the entire planning phase 2. Transparent handling of project-related information by project planners on site 3. Fair participation of all persons affected and residents, including those not directly benefiting as site owners 4. Involvement of regional energy supply companies and financing institutions 5. Development of financial investment opportunities for communities, citizens and enterprises. ØTransferable to other European countries?!
  • 14. Advisory and intermediary organisations In many cases, mayors have the ability to integrate and mediate in the event of conflicting views. Often, however, there are honorary mayors that tend to be overwhelmed by the complex planning and approval procedures Neutral advisory organizations can contribute to more open, constructive communication and can help the local authorities to have a dialogue at eye level and to mediate between different interests
  • 15. Substantiated concerns, NIMBYism or populism? Often criticism is expression of legitimate concerns right-wing populists, however, stir up existing frustrations against "ruling elites" rhetoric reinforces the impression that only elites benefit -> aggravates distrust in decision makers (and science) risk of unfair distribution of costs and benefits under-addressed -> European policymakers should become more involved with the manyfold reasons for non-acceptance Wind energy plants should be perceived as a means of • contributing to the common goods, • promoting social justice, • ensuring a healthy environment, • increasing living standards, • modernising the economy and • boosting competitiveness
  • 16. European Union as game changer? • according to the EU Commission, almost half of all EU households could be involved in producing renewable energy by 2050 • 37% could be involved in an energy community • the concept of “(Renewable) Energy Community” was introduced into the EU legislation through Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) and the new Electricity Directive in December 2018 • Both Directives support the development of ‘citizens energy communities’, and assist citizens that want to participate collectively in the energy transition Ø legal basis for cooperatives and other community-based energy projects across Europe ?
  • 17. Thank you for your attention Dr. Dörte Ohlhorst Bavarian School of Public Policy Chair of Environmental and Climate Policy Technical University of Munich http://www.hfp.tum.de/en/home/