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‘Them and us’: Regional-national power-plays in the German energy transformation: A case study in Lower Franconia

Ray Galvin

Energy Policy, 2018, vol. 113, issue C, 269-277

Abstract: This paper reports a regional case study of key issues for Germany's energy transformation (Energiewende) in and around Schweinfurt County (Landkreis Schweinfurt) in the geographical region of Unterfranken (Lower Franconia). Document research and semi-structured interviews with strategically selected local persons were conducted, supplemented by existing local knowledge. Citizen cooperatives in Lower Franconia have built numerous wind farms, were forerunners in commercial photovoltaics and provided political impetus for Germany's renewable energy subsidy law. But locals report disillusionment with recent neoliberal trends that lead to well-financed absentee investors buying up renewable energy siting rights, manoeuvring and pricing locals out of business, while government demands local access for an electricity superhighway that will serve other regions. The paper investigates local actors’ perceptions of power plays between themselves and outside investors and policymakers, using Geels’ schema of instrumental, material, institutional and discursive power. It finds locals outmanoeuvred and losing control, to outside interests, of what has been a significant contribution to the Energiewende, while their wider local economy and solidarity are being undermined. The paper recommends policymakers avoid framing regional groups as problems to be solved and instead act to support and harness their unique social resources for a more socially acceptable Energiewende.

Keywords: Renewable energy; Lower Franconia; Power plays; Germany's Energiewende (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.11.016

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