The divide between rich and poor is widening, according to many. This societal rift also becomes apparent when contemplating the Energy Turn. How can individuals and society progress towards the new energy-society, while taking into account the particular processes of structural changes which are taking place in the Ruhr-Area?

Project

EnerChange – Bridging the Divide – Communicating the Energy Turn to Everybody

The divide between rich and poor is widening, according to many. This societal rift also becomes apparent when contemplating the Energy Turn. This change, which is regarded as a ‘Megatrend’ by Z_punkt (a consulting firm pertaining to issues of the future), reinforces opposing mentalities and behavior patterns. On the one hand it allows individuals to act in a way that is socially, culturally, economically and ecologically sustainable; on the other it impedes the realization of a broadly defined Energy Turn, because it is not accessible to everybody, or rather: because some are disadvantaged in particular ways. In this sense, the social divide is both driving and slowing down the progress towards a successful Energy Turn.

In the preceding project of the Cluster “Mentalitäten & Verhaltensmuster” (mentalities and behavior patterns), a survey showed that – apart from fears of energy shortages – there is a milieu-specific perception of the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of the Energy Turn. Many people from the precariat social class view the energy turn as unjust, while at the same time being the group which most frequently stated that they know little or next to nothing about it.

Operating under the premise that the Energy Turn can only succeed as a joint societal venture, the research question is: how can individuals and society progress towards the new energy-society, while taking into account the particular processes of structural changes which are taking place in the Ruhr-Area? The focus of the project is the socially disadvantaged, who often view themselves as the ‘losers’ of the Energy Turn.

First, the structural changes in the Ruhr-Area are examined in terms of acceptance of the Energy Turn, since this region was uniquely impaired by the cessation of fossil fuel usage. On one hand, the structural changes resulting from this cessation are specified and on the other, it is examined to what extent new approaches are suited to create an acceptance of the Energy Turn among those who are especially affected by structural changes.

Furthermore, a communication strategy will be developed . To this end, the use of text and academic abstractions will be as little as possible. The aim is to cover issues pertaining to the Energy Turn in a way that is intelligible to everybody.

In addition, an experiment is being developed in order to test different measures of intervention dealing with the topic of energy consumption. Apart from its realization in the laboratory of the RWTH Aachen, this experiment, as well as the communication strategy, will be implemented within the context of the “Citizen Engagement Process”, which serves as the framework of the project. Participants of the citizen-forums involve themselves and their vision of the Energy Turn in the discourse in a participative manner. Their ideas and the ways to implement them are discussed with experts, and the results are made available to policy-makers.

Project Management: Dr. Steven Engler (KWI), Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick (WI), Dr. Stefan Gärtner (IAT), Jürgen Schultze (sfs)

Coordination: Stephanie Lübke (sfs)

Project Staff: Britta Acksel (KWI), Tugba Atasoy (RWTH Aachen), Elke Dahlbeck (IAT), Kerstin Meyer (IAT), Katharina Schrot (sfs), Jenny Zorn (KWI)

Funded By: Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Innovation, Digitalisierung und Energie des Landes NRW (Ministry for the Economy, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia); Cluster EnergieForschung.NRW (Cluster Energy Research.NRW)

Duration: 01/2018 – 06/2019