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uni'wissen 1-2013_ENG

The important thing is to set up a networking center, says Ruppert­Winkel, touching on one of the group’s most important findings: “In addition to being run by dedicated individuals, this center should be embedded within a solid institutional framework.” As an example, the scientist names the Agenda 21 office of the district Steinfurt in North Rhine­Westphalia, winner of the 2012 German Solar Prize. The office serves as the nerve center for energy policy in the district. It engages in conflict management, calls the pro­ tagonists together, delineates their fields of activity – mobility, agriculture, finances, project planning – and organizes public participation as well as a comprehensive system of data collec­ tion as a basis for planning. Integrating Key Protagonists The researchers emphasize the great impor­ tance of identifying the key protagonists in the region and getting them involved. For instance, the “political and technical pioneers” in the district of Schwäbisch­Hall “looked for solutions even before renewable energy legislation was passed and simply began experimenting with biogas plants at their farms,” says Ruppert­Winkel. These experiments led to the establishment of a company that now has 200 employees – a success story that also serves as a demonstration of the economic benefits the regional energy transition can have: Capital stays in the region, where it contributes to prosperity rather than disappear­ ing into the hands of global energy corporations. The researchers thus added a section on “regional value creation” to their guide for municipalities. What makes the difference is that the energy center Wolpertshausen, responsible for the en­ tire district of Schwäbisch­Hall, is funded by the local economic development agency. The center organizes lectures and seminars to inform experts and the interested public about the ben­ efits of alternative energy production. More than “There is a great willingness among the various interest groups to search for common solutions,” reports Ruppert­Winkel. Indeed, the group has already found such solutions – in the case of Lüchow­Dannenberg, for instance, flower strips for insects and more environmentally friendly seed mixtures are now contributing to the sur­ vival of the skylark. Shaping the energy transition on a local scale: The “energy wheel” shows the various dimensions for the sustainable expansion of renewable energies. Illustration: EE Regions Project 30