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The Siberian Curse

A Blessing in Disguise for Renewable Energy?

Indra Overland

This article examines the prospects for the development of renewable energy in Russia, concentrating on remote northern settlements as a possible market niche. The article discusses conducive factors and obstacles to the development of renewable energy in Russia as a whole. It starts by noting many factors conducive to renewable energy in Russia and then goes on to identify some major obstacles that nonetheless make it difficult to develop renewable energy in the country. The author further examines how these obstacles might be overcome and an initial foothold be established by replacing the northern freight system (severnyi zavoz) with locally produced renewable energy. The article draws on interviews with Russian scholars, government officials, and business people related to energy and/or the north, as well as written materials on severnyi zavoz and renewable energy in Russia.

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Meshworks and the Making of Climate Places in the European Alps

A Framework for Ethnographic Research on the Perceptions of Climate Change

Sophie Elixhauser, Stefan Böschen, and Katrin Vogel

rush for renewable energies that has arisen since the turn of the millennium. Referring to the Renewable Energies Act (or EEG, the Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) 9 passed in 2000, he approached the local policy makers to propose the construction of a

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Marco Sonnberger and Michael Ruddat

The transition to renewable energy in Germany is an enormous task. It requires long-term and intensive communication as well as the cooperation of all societal groups and systems (politics, economy, science, civil society, and citizens). The

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Carol Hager

The energy revolution poses a fundamental challenge to the German corporatist institutional model. The push for renewables in Germany arose almost entirely outside the prevailing channels of institutional power. Eventually, federal legislation helped support the boom in local energy production that was already underway, and it encouraged the further development of new forms of community investment and citizen participation in energy supply. Recently, the federal government has tried to put the genie back in the bottle by shifting support to large energy producers. But, as this article shows, the energy transition has provided a base for local power that cannot easily be assailed. The debate over German energy policy is becoming a contest between centralized and decentralized models of political and economic power. Prevailing institutionalist theories have difficulty accounting for these developments. I analyze the local development of renewable energy by means of a case study of the Freiburg area in southwestern Germany, which has evolved from a planned nuclear power and fossil fuel center to Germany's “solar region”. Incorporating insights from ecological modernization theory, I show how the locally based push for renewables has grown into a challenge to the direction of German democracy itself.

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When the Exit?

The Difficult Politics of German Coal

Tessa Coggio and Thane Gustafson

This article considers Germany’s contentious exit from brown coal (lignite), now set for 2038. While greener alternatives, such as wind, solar, or natural gas have been reducing coal’s standing in Germany’s energy mix for years, coal proponents, backed by special interests, have pushed back at all levels of government. With a focus on the politics of coal during the 2017 parliamentary elections, the tedious months of coalition negotiations and the work of the coal committee since summer 2018, we explore how policymakers try to reconcile competing interests at the federal state, local, as well as international levels.

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Erik Gawel, Sebastian Strunz, and Paul Lehmann

The German energy transition repeatedly faces harsh critiques questioning its economic and environmental merits. This article defends the energy transition and argues that Germany has chosen an economically efficient and particularly forceful approach to securing a sustainable energy supply. Though current expenditures are high, the long-term benefits of transforming the energy system to a renewables-based system are likely to outweigh present investment costs. Furthermore, support policies for renewables are not redundant-as some critics claim-but instead complement other policy instruments, such as the emissions trading scheme. This article also addresses the motives behind the discrediting attacks on the German energy policy regime. Defensive actions by beneficiaries of the former energy market structure are only to be expected, but the attacks from liberal economists are astonishingly fierce.

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Roger Karapin

Germany has reduced its emissions of greenhouse gases more than almost any other industrialized democracy and is exceeding its ambitious Kyoto commitment. Hence, it is commonly portrayed as a climate-policy success story, but the situation is actually much more complex. Generalizing Germany's per-capita emissions to all countries or its emissions reductions to all industrialized democracies would still very likely produce more than a two-degree rise in global temperature. Moreover, analyzing the German country-case into eleven subcases shows that it is a mixture of relative successes and failures. This analysis leads to three main conclusions. First, high relative performance and high environmental damage can coexist. Second, we should see national cases in a differentiated way and not only in terms of their aggregate performances. Third, researchers on climate policies should more often begin with outcomes, work backward to policies, and be prepared for some surprises. Ironically, the most effective government interventions may not be explicit climate policies, such as the economic transformation of eastern Germany. Moreover, the lack of policy-making in certain areas may undercut progress made elsewhere, including unregulated increases in car travel, road freight, and electricity consumption. Research on climate and environmental policies should focus on somewhat different areas of government intervention and ask different questions.

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Ståle Knudsen, Ingrid Birce Müftüoğlu, and Isabelle Hugøy

question through a multi-sited study of Statkraft, a particularly “responsible” renewable energy corporation, owned by the Norwegian state. Being a fully state-owned company based in a Nordic corporate context raises the additional question of whether this

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Stefan Heiland, Silke Spielmans, and Bernd Demuth

The article examines the relevance of demographic change for the development of rural landscapes, especially in Germany's shrinking regions. To date, no empirical investigations have undertaken the matter. Thus, the article is mainly based on literature analysis and the findings of expert workshops. The research indicates that demographic change does not have as strong impact on landscapes as other factors such as agricultural policy, climate change, and the promotion of renewable energies. Nonetheless, from the perspective of nature conservation, there might be some indirect effects caused by structural and institutional changes of administrations, which could lead to a decline in importance of landscape-related concerns. In addition, changes in environmental consciousness due to rising cultural diversity could lead to a different societal attitude toward landscapes and their values.

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The Rise and Fall of the Segway

Lessons for the Social Adoption of Future Transportation

Andrew V. Clark, Carol Atkinson-Palombo, and Norman W. Garrick

Once posited as a revolutionary transportation technology, the Segway never took off as some expected because the social acceptance of the technology was not considered in a systematic manner. Using a framework for social acceptance of technology borrowed from the literature on renewable energy, we examine how social, economic, and environmental costs of the Segway, along with regulatory issues presented barriers to implementation. High prices, legislative and spatial issues, and a lack of appeal to consumers presented challenges to acceptance. This case study provides a timely reminder of the multifaceted and complex nature of social acceptance that will need to be applied to future innovations, such as autonomous vehicles, to better understand factors that need to be considered for them to be embraced by society.