Dezent Zivil – New forms of civic involvement when building decentralised energy plants

The goal of the joint project is to analyse the deficits and to test improved participatory procedures when building decentralised energy plants.

Research approach

In the context of the German Energy Transition (Energiewende), more and more decentralised energy plants are being planned, built and put into operation across Germany. The citizens impacted by these plans at the sites are entitled to be involved and have their say on projects. But the current scope for civic involvement has been extremely limited, creating additional potential for conflict. This is the research project’s starting point: First the project partners will develop a deficit analysis of current participatory procedures, based on biomass and wind energy plants which have already been licensed. This will form the basis for a concept for improved participation of the public, including recommendations for when civic involvement should take place. Finally, the newly developed concept will be subjected to a practical test, using actual plans of biomass and wind power plants in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, and in cooperation with the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry for the Environment and the office of the state councillor for citizens’ involvement and civil society.


In the past, generating power was achieved mostly through large coal plants and nuclear power stations. But recently, and especially in the context of the German Energy Transition, smaller, decentralised plants are increasingly needed, for example for generating energy from biomass or wind. However, even the choice of sites often leads to conflicts of interest between decision-makers, planners and investors on one side, and neighbours and property owners on the other side. From past conflicts, we have learned that citizens have often been informed and involved too late. But especially in the late stages of the licensing procedure, conflicts of interest become difficult to solve. In order to develop new concepts of involvement here, more insight needs to be gained into the attitudes of everyone involved towards where sites are planned and how decentralised energy plants are licensed.

Research partners

  • Universität Kassel: Fachgebiet Öffentliches Recht mit dem Schwerpunkt Recht der Technik und des Umweltschutzes – Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften (projekt lead) in cooperation with Kompetenzzentrum für Klimaschutz und Klimaanpassung (CliMA) und Center for Environmental System Research (CESR), Universität Kassel
  • ISOE – Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung, Frankfurt am Main
  • Team Ewen, Darmstadt  

Further partner

  • Staatsministerium Baden-Württemberg, Zivilgesellschaft und Bürgerbeteiligung, Stuttgart
  • Ministerium für Umwelt, Klima und Energiewirtschaft Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart
  • Naturschutzbund (NABU) Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart


The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project „Dezent Zivil. Decisions about decentralised energy plants in civil society” within the funding measure “Social-Ecological Research” (SOEF).


2013/03 – 2016/03