The fundamental goal of the Energiewende is to meet at least 80 percent of Germany’s power needs using sun, wind and other renewables by 2050. The common characteristic of these technologies is that they collect energy – from the movement of wind and rays of sun – in a dispersed and diluted form, bundle this together and transmit it to consumers. Therefore a widely distributed, technical infrastructure, comprised of production plants, power lines and distribution networks is necessary. These will change our environment, just as other societal developments (such as cars) have done.
At the same time, infrastructure can only be developed if most people are behind it, which in turn contributes to the general acceptance of the Energiewende.
How to ensure social justice for those affected by such Energiewende-related infrastructure development is just one area of acceptance we are grappling with.
Acceptance will not be achieved sustainably by awarding certain groups economic privileges. One way to address this issue could be to reduce barriers to participation in the electricity market for small, local actors, and to avoid erecting new ones. A further method would be to design planning processes, for example when creating networks, which involve citizens in the early stages, so they can contribute their ideas effectively.
Costs are also important for acceptance. One way to help maintain a broad social consensus for the Energiewende is to efficiently revamp the power system while keeping power prices steady at affordable levels over the long term.