Research Project of the Research Group EMPK of the TU Ilmenau on "Acceptance of Wind Power in Thuringia".

To slow down climate change, a massive reduction of CO2 emissions is necessary. For this, the consumption of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) must be significantly reduced in a short time.

However, since most people wish to maintain their current way of life as far as possible, the question arises as to where the energy required for this is to come from. If one wants to achieve both goals - CO2 reduction and preservation of a modern lifestyle - then the use of renewable energies is indispensable. This transition is known as the energy transition. In Germany, wind power and photovoltaics are the most important renewable energy sources. Without the intensive use of these resources, the energy transition in Germany cannot be achieved.

Surveys show that the vast majority of people in Germany are aware of the dangers of climate change and therefore support the energy transition in principle. However, when it comes to implementing concrete projects, there is often considerable resistance. In Thuringia, the construction of wind power plants is particularly controversial.

One such wind power project is currently being planned in the vicinity of Großschwabhausen. The village, which has a population of about 1,000, is located on the Weimar-Jena rail line in the Weimarer Land district. Communication scientists from the EMPK department now want to take a closer look at this project. The head of the project, Prof. Dr. Jens Wolling, explains: "The project in Großschwabhausen is particularly interesting from a scientific point of view because it was initiated as a joint project by several citizens´ energy cooperatives, i.e. by people from the region. We are asking ourselves whether and how the initiators of the project succeed in communicating in a comprehensible way to the citizens in the region what is different about this project than typical investor projects."

As a first step, the researchers at TU Ilmenau analyzed media coverage of the project and the content of an online forum to which the project's initiators invited citizens of Grossschwabhausen and neighboring towns. According to Prof. Wolling, the results of the content analysis of the media show two findings: 1. the opponents of the project have so far been the main ones to speak out in the media. 2. the special feature of the project, that the plants are to be realized by citizens' energy cooperatives and that local citizens will have the opportunity to participate directly, has not been mentioned in the press so far, or only marginally."

When analyzing the online forum, the Ilmenau scientists found that the citizens formulated their questions very objectively and that there was great interest among many of them to learn more about the project. "I had not expected such an open atmosphere at the event" explained Professor Wolling: "Since the local council had already spoken out unanimously against the project, I had expected a heated atmosphere. However, the opinion in the community is apparently not as uniform as the local council resolution suggests." To find out what the opinion of the citizenry actually is, the Ilmenau scientists plan to conduct interviews with residents of the villages in the coming weeks. "We are interested in people's concerns as well as their hopes," explains Professor Wolling: "That's why we want to talk to everyone who wants to express their views on the project. We want to find out what expectations people associate with the project, what fears and wishes they express, and what information they need. We want to talk to everyone, regardless of how they feel about the project."

Anyone willing to conduct a telephone interview with the Ilmenau scientists is asked to email or call 03677 694654 to schedule an interview.