As renewable energies are not yet able to deliver a stable baseload energy supply, a crucial part of the German “Energiewende” consists of the use and further development of energy balancing technologies. As “socio-technical systems“ on the one hand these technologies need to be further elaborated from a technical point of view, but on the other hand, as a fundamental precondition to their adoption they need to be accepted and complemented by people dealing with them.

Creating acceptance of various energy balancing technologies is complicated by a number of factors. Among others, these technologies are fairly detached from people’s everyday lives and therefore no profound understanding is existing outside expert circles at current state. Hence, before even being able to address barriers to their acceptance the question of energy balancing technologies needs to become more present in people’s lives. Moreover, people required to accept these technologies do not represent a homogeneous group, but various subgroups of stakeholders. A particularly interesting constellation of subgroups consists in landlords, who need to make investments in order to equip their properties with energy balancing technologies and renters, who need to tolerate their installation or even could ask for it. This interaction bears great potential for conflicts, especially when it comes to increased costs on both or either side.

While this PhD thesis, which is linked to the one of Ann-Katrin Becker, is still at the very beginning and the research design is currently in the process of being elaborated, it is planned to address these above mentioned issues. In a first step, it is the aim, to obtain a more profound understanding of the current state of acceptance of energy balancing technologies, if possible measured using a standardised questionnaire. However, due to the above mentioned lack of knowledge in the broader public, it might not be feasible to assess their acceptance (yet). In the latter case, as a precondition to acceptance, a more detailed analysis of the level of knowledge on energy balancing technologies that exists outside expert circles as well as people’s beliefs will be conducted. The data collection will be based on a standardised questionnaire and potentially can be expanded to qualitative interviews or focus groups to see dynamics within group discussions. Recognising that acceptance or beliefs of these technologies are influenced by other variables, people’s place attachment will be included into the analysis as well as socio-demographic influences such as the economic situation. In a second step, addressing the existence of various sometimes opposing stakeholder groups, it will be assessed how people’s social identity of being part of a certain group (e.g. such as landlords as opposed to renters) and existing group norms regarding energy balancing technologies impact an individual’s judgement of these technologies.

Being aware of the current beliefs regarding these technologies as well as how psychological constructs, such as place attachment and social identity influence their acceptance can help to identify useful trigger points in order to increase an overall acceptance of these technologies crucial for the German “Energiewende”.