Germanwatch, Germany     


In the research project ESRa (Energiewende im sozialen Raum = energy transition within social
spaces) we analyze how regions that support energy transition differ from regions that rather
disapprove or even oppose it. A special focus, here, lies on urban compared to rural areas. Based on
evidence and local knowledge on regional differences and effects, and with the help of decision
support tools ESRa provides local actors and decision makers with insights and methods that enable
them to open up new opportunities for sustainable regional development, even under difficult


The energy transitions is a project that affects society at large and depends on society-wide engagement. Such a demanding transformation process can only work if it is implemented as fair and socially acceptable as possible. However, in every transformation process, redistribution effects in form of costs and benefits or opportunities and challenges occur. Here, ESRa looks particularly at regional effects and intends to enhance the regions’ abilities to benefit from energy transition.


ESRa does so by conducting two comparable case studies in Germany. One of them in the metropolis of Berlin, as an example of a booming urban center, and the second in the district of Spree-Neiße in Lusatia, a coal region in transition, as an example of a rural area under high transformation pressure. ESRa investigates these social spaces with special attention to four research foci (attitude towards energy transition, lifestyle and mobility, labor market, and alliances) by applying data and literature analysis, and engaging stakeholders in various formats. One such format is the Decision Theatre (DT) that integrates simulations from computer models, visualizations and stakeholder dialogues to co-create knowledge and conduct qualitative research. Its further development into a communication format useable for decision makers is as much a project goal as the development of evidence-based action plans with which interregional polarization and other socio-spatial challenges can be tackled and energy transitions facilitated.


A research team consisting of the Global Climate Forum, Fraunhofer IEE, Germanwatch, IKEM, and IRS Leibniz-Institute conducts the project.


More information: Startseite | ESRa – Energiewende im Sozialen Raum (

[in German only]

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