Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), "Demoenergy - The Transformation of the Energy System as a Driver of Democratic Innovation" is a joint research project of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI, Essen) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS, Potsdam). The project examined public participation processes in connection with the transformation of the energy system and sought to develop a better understanding of the potentials and limits of dialogue-oriented citizen participation processes around the planning of infrastructure projects for the energy transformation. The project addressed three key questions:
- What can and must we learn about conflicts that emerge in connection with the energy transition?
- What communication and participation practices are currently taking hold around the energy transformation?
- Can action research initiate participation processes that give citizens a greater role in infrastructure planning?
A central outcome of the research conducted at the IASS is the database "Energiebeteiligt.de". The database gathers together case studies of dialogue-oriented participation and facilitates the comparison of various real-world participatory processes that involve interest groups and citizens in efforts to tackle challenges around the energy transformation. The case studies highlight diverse ways to address the concerns of the public around wind and solar projects, to plan options for infrastructure in cooperation with citizens, and to develop strategies and concrete measures for the energy transformation on location. Processes offering diverse opportunities for participation feature prominently in the database and are categorized by format and/or method as well as planning criteria and decision-making contexts. An overview of the case studies is available here.