Urbanization is one of the Megatrends of our time: it fundamentally encompasses all political, societal, technical and economical levels and alters them significantly. The research project “EnerUrb” is concerned with the reciprocal effects of political, social and cultural implications of the urban as well as rural Energy Turn, in the nexus of water, energy, agriculture and sustenation.

Project

EnerUrb – Urbanization: The Energy Turn in North-Rhine Westphalia in an Area of Conflict Between Rural and Urban Regions.

Urbanization is one of the Megatrends of our time: it fundamentally encompasses all political, societal, technical and economical levels and alters them significantly. The term ‘Urbanization’ not only refers to a process of spatial densification through urban growth. It also concerns socio-economical and sociocultural developments which are taking place in metropolitan as well as rural areas. Given the coexistence of densely and sparsely settled areas in NRW (e.g. the Ruhrgebiet and Sauerland), a diverse range of types and trends of urbanization can be identified. However, these spaces are not separate – rather, they interact on several different levels.

The central challenge of the 21st century is to successfully implement the Energy Turn.

Given a decline in energy needs and the accompanying technical infrastructure, diverse solutions are required which can renewably and efficiently shape the integration and energetic optimization of rural and urban infrastructure.

The research project “EnerUrb” is concerned with the reciprocal effects of political, social and cultural implications of the urban as well as rural Energy Turn, in the nexus of water, energy, agriculture and sustenation.

It aims to capture the non-technical aspects of the Energy Turn in conjunction with urbanization and to contribute to the sustainability of these processes. This is enabled by citizen participation integrated into the project. The goal is not only to explore citizens’ interests, but also to integrate the citizenry in terms of a transformative academia.

The following research questions follow from the focus on urbanization and the connection of the Energy Turn with the ‘Food-Energy-Water Nexus’:

  • Which political and social dynamics form the base of the Energy Turn in NRW when including the FEW-Nexus and which differences exist between urban and rural areas?
  • Which urbanization-trends can be identified in NRW?
  • Which social dynamics can be identified in both rural and urban areas in NRW in the context of the Energy Turn?
  • What should the qualities of a holistic Energy Turn be when taking into account the FEW-Nexus from the point of view of civil society in urban as well as rural areas?

The results will be mapped in a participative Energy-Turn-Index, the aim of which is to contribute to a successful overhaul of the energy grid in rural and urban spaces of NRW, while at the same time promoting citizen involvement.

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Hans J. Lietzmann (BUW), Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick (WI), Prof. Dr. Petra Schweizer-Ries (HSBO)

Project Coordination: Nora Freier (BUW)

Project Staff: Lisa Kränke (HSBO), Katja Witte (WI)

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 – 12/2019