Until 2050 80% of the produced electricity in Germany should be delivered by renewable energies. In ordern to achieve this goal a broad electricity grid expansion is necessary as well as an enormous extension of energy production through renewable energies. As renewable energies are not able to constantly deliver a stable base load energy supply, a crucial part of the German ‚Energiewende’ consists of the use and further development of technical options to compensate fluctuations within the energy supply. Besides the overall grid expansion, there are local and regional options to establish energy balanced local communities through the use of batteries, storage technologies or Combined Heat and Power.

The PhD research study is embedded in an ongoing research project which examines different balancing technologies with regard to their specific acceptance. As socio-technical systems the acceptance by people dealing with these technologies is a precondition to their adoption. Thus supportive factors as well as specific obstacles for acceptance are investigated. In this project different energy balancing technologies shall be installed in a neighbourhood community with a mixed population as well as mixed building structure. Local stakeholders (e.g. city council, house owners and renters) will be participatory involved and thus acceptance for energy storage technologies shall be raised as it is explained e.g. in Arnstein’s ladder of participation.

The aim within this PhD research study is to obtain a profound understanding of local participation initiatives involving different local participants like renters, the city council, the investors and the private house owners. Thereby it has to be taken into consideration that different subgroups of stakeholders have different interests in and different obstacles to energy balancing tools. Investors and private house owners have rather economic obstacles and need to be convinced of the benefit of installing energy balancing technologies whereas renters can’t decide but can demand for energy balancing technologies if they accept these. Therefore, one part of the study is going to examine the fundamental differences within these groups in terms of economic interest, pro environmental values, specific beliefs concerning technologies and other parties concerned, knowledge and especially their motivation. Further, different participative methods will be studied to explore their effects towards the acceptance of implementing energy balancing technologies in order to identify how participation leads to a higher acceptance of energy balancing technologies.

The PhD research study is still in the very beginning and considerations concerning research design and methodology are not yet profound elaborated. In addition it will be linked to the research study by Lena Jungbluth.

Methodologically, the work aims to compare the effects of participation for the different stakeholders concerning their beliefs, knowledge and especially their motivation for engagement for the ‘Energiewende’ in Germany. Multistage qualitative interviews with the different local stakeholders are thought to be of great value when identifying their beliefs and motivations as well as the impact of the participation processes on local acceptance on energy balancing technologies. Furthermore, to complement the generated data from the interviews participant observation will be applied to verify if the examined beliefs, motivations and mental models are conducted in the participation processes.