The Climate Group launches new case study on the inclusion of citizens in renewable energy development

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4 October 2016

LONDON: The Climate Group has published a landmark new case study that assesses how the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is involving citizens and other stakeholders in the development of renewable energy projects.

The case study analyzes how, despite widely recognized environmental and social benefits, renewable energy projects can generate a variety of concerns among citizens around issues including land use, environmental impacts and socio-economic implications.

The study also finds that state and regional governments, as a link between local communities, the private sector and cities, are best positioned to facilitate consultations and address public concerns at an early stage of project development.

North Rhine-Westphalia, the lead government of The Climate Group’s Energy Transition Platform and a member of the States & Regions Alliance, has implemented the Energy Dialogue NRW (EnergieDialog.NRW) as a leading example of successful stakeholder involvement for renewables development.

The innovative platform has a dual objective to provide up-to-date, unbiased information on renewable energy projects, as well as to facilitate an inclusive debate between citizens, project developers, nature conservation organizations and local authorities – already during the planning phase.

It does this through several channels, including targeted expert advice on renewable energy project development, professional mediation and round table discussions.

The Energy Dialogue NRW also provides a website with the latest information on renewable energy coupled with an interactive navigation tool.

While sporadic citizen consultations are being introduced in some regions when designing climate change or energy transition strategies, the Energy Dialogue NRW has been designed as a permanent platform, providing direct support directly on the ground.

The platform is neither time- nor project-limited, and the consultation or mediation process can be initiated by any of the concerned stakeholders.

Since its creation in July 2011, the Energy Dialogue has provided substantial project advice and technical presentations on more than 100 occasions.

It is also integrated into the Energy Agency NRW and is partially financed by the Ministry for Climate Protection and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Tina Völker, Policy Officer, Ministry for Climate Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia, said: “The Energy Dialogue has proven to be a very useful instrument for one of the biggest but often forgotten challenges of the energy transition: the question of how to take along citizens and society in this immense task. The Climate Group’s Energy Transition Platform is the ideal place for us to share and discuss this experience with our colleagues from other governments.”

The Energy Transition Platform connects highly-industrialized, carbon-intensive state and regional governments in developing and implementing clean energy policies. It is part of the States & Regions Policy Innovation program, a forum for peer-to-peer learning on climate and energy topics, including adaptation, electric vehicles and clean technology innovation.

The Energy Transition Platform was launched by The Climate Group, with the initiative’s lead government, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Stiftung Mercator, in early 2016. An analysis of the overall energy transition experience of North Rhine-Westphalia was released in May.

Dowload the new case study here

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