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uni'wissen 1-2013_ENG

Lofty goals: More than 100 municipalities and regions in Germany want to supply themselves with renewable energies. Photo: Thomas Kunz Lüchow­Dannenberg in Lower Saxony and Schwäbisch Hall in Baden­Württemberg and the municipalities Morbach in Rhineland Palatinate and Wolpertshausen in the district of Schwäbisch Hall. They have already begun to make the switch to renewable energy and participated in the research project as partners. The scientists and politicians sat down together and deliberated over the necessary know­how and changes in policy for making the vision a reality. Fed Up with Nuclear Power When Germans hear the name Lüchow­ Dannenberg, they think of radioactive waste transports. No wonder the rural district has long been fed up with nuclear power and is looking for alternatives. Energy from biomass seems to sug­ gest itself. Many citizens, the scientists have found, have modified their cars and now fill up their tanks at the biogas filling station. However, producing energy from plants eats up vast swaths of cropland. In addition, it can lead to maize monocultures and drain the soil of nutri­ ents. This has a detrimental effect on the skylark, a species of bird that serves as an indicator for biological diversity in agricultural landscapes. This in turn angers conservationists, who sud­ denly find themselves at loggerheads with farmers. One would think that this situation would not necessarily be conducive to an ecologically sound and socially acceptable energy transition. Nevertheless, the scientists believe that it is pos­ sible, particularly if it is realized on a local scale, where people know one another and aren’t forced to deal with faceless large­scale institutions. “There is a great willingness among the various interest groups to search for common solutions” 29