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uni'wissen 1-2013_ENG

After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a transition to renewable energies. The SPD politician Rolf Böhme, former mayor of Freiburg, considers the energy transition to be “one of the most ambitious large­scale projects in post­war Germany.” However, he maintains that the actual catalysts of change will be the local governments: The energy transition will usher in a new era for municipal self­government. Indeed, more than 100 municipalities and regions in Germany, representing more than 20 million citizens, are already taking concrete steps to make the switch to renewable energies. But how does this work? What should municipalities watch out for? What obstacles could hinder their progress in this endeavor? The research project “EE Regions: Social Ecology and Self­Sufficiency,” which is receiving two million euros in funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research from May 2009 to April 2014, aims to provide them with answers to these questions. The head of the project is the forest and environmental scientist Dr. Chantal Ruppert­Winkel from the Center for Renewable Energy of the University of Freiburg. With the help of her colleagues in Freiburg as well as junior researchers from the Institute for Ecologi­ cal Economy Research in Berlin and the University of Hohenheim, she has prepared a guide munici­ palities and their citizens can use to shape the energy transition on a local scale. “It isn’t just about energy production in a strict sense but also about how energy can be produced through sustainable means,” says the project director. “Only if all of the gears interlock as smoothly as possible can the energy transition be at the same time ecologically sound and socially acceptable.” Several local governments have already learned this lesson, such as the rural districts A research project coordinated by Freiburg researchers has produced a guide for local governments A Guide to the Energy Transition by Anita Rüffer 2828