Accepted paper:

Paying the bill: ethnographies of Germany's 'energiewende'


Dorle Dracklé (University of Bremen)
Werner Krauß (University of Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

Who pays for rising costs due to the great energy transition? The energy transition is said to be a huge success, but why are costs rising anyway? Starting from our own monthly energy bill, we trace different strands at the example of the energy transition in the federal state of Hamburg.

Paper long abstract:

The project ‚Energiewende' is still not more than a word. It is an idea and political will currently set into practice. National governmental policies try to design the futuristic model of an energy citizen, democratic of origin and totally decarbonized by law. Tensions are rising between the government and the citizens. Going local, we are mapping the energy landscapes of the federal state of Hamburg in its respective transitory spaces. We trace the different emanations of the energy transition, bringing together local players, international corporate energy industries like Vattenfall, regional energy policies, civic activities, and neighborhood experience. We argue that there is much more to the energy transition than reducing carbon from the atmosphere. The energy transition is a multilayered process that touches issues like environmental justice and democratic practices as argued by Stengers. Houses have to be insulated, alternative energies still have to be supplemented by coal plants, nuclear energies are ruled out by civic activities and corporate energy industries raise the energy bill. Energy is so much more than an engineering and governance problem, it is still a black box. Opening the box reveals a highly complex field for energy-plugged-in anthropologies. Easily designated as a global problem, in our opinion the energy transition is a local process. Rather than assuming the existence of 'systems of energy' we suggest that energy cosmopolitics have to emerge from ethnographic details.

panel P06
Energy citizenships and prospects for low carbon democracy