BMWK funds FernUni’s research on wind energy with close to one million euros


While wind-generated energy was already an essential element of the energy transition in the past, accelerating its expansion also becomes elementary to energy security in the face of the current energy crisis. Nonetheless, wind energy expansion slumped between 2018 and 2020. In addition to problems regarding planning and permits, delaying factors included local citizens’ initiatives and legal action. Since these procedures and their effects on wind energy expansion have not been systematically researched, the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (BMWK; Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action) has recently approved a research project led by Prof. Dr. Annette Elisabeth Töller to examine these issues. The project is titled “Klagen und Bürgerbegehren als Hemmnisse für den Windenergieausbau in Deutschland - Hemm-den-Wind“ (Legal action and citizens‘ initiatives as obstacles to wind energy expansion in Germany). In collaboration with psychologists Dr. Helen Landmann and Prof. Dr. Robert Gaschler, legal scholar Prof. Dr. Andrea Edenharter and political scientist Dr. Daniel Rasch, this project aims to research the procedural, legal, and societal conditions of wind energy expansion.

The project is supported by 29 wind energy companies from all over Germany, the Bundesverband WindEnergie e.V. (German Wind Energy Association) as well as the Fachagentur Windenergie an Land (Special Agency for Onshore Wind Energy). It combines a political science, psychological and jurisprudential perspective to identify the conditions that lead to legal action and citizens’ initiatives against onshore wind energy projects. In addition, it examines the conditions under which these activities result in obstacles to wind energy expansion.

  • The political science part of the project addresses both citizens’ initiatives and legal action (including by associations). It examines under which conditions these procedures are initiated, and under which conditions they are successful in the sense of preventing or restricting the construction of a specific wind energy plant.
  • The psychological part of the project is mainly concerned with the conditions under which citizens’ initiatives are initiated and carried through. Its focus is on the emergence of group-related motivation and emotion.
  • The jurisprudential part of the project examines legal action taken against permits for wind energy plants, applications for judicial review of plans stipulating the use of wind energy, and legal action related to citizens’ initiatives. It investigates which reasons most often lead to a stop of wind energy expansion.

By combining these three perspectives and exchanging views with the Special Agency for Onshore Wind Energy, the project generates new insights to improve the procedural, legal and societal conditions of expanding wind energy. Currently, preparations for the project are being made so it can launch in January 2023.

Hanno Hahn | 10.05.2024