Acceptance of Renewable Energy Policy

Enabling Decentralized renewable Generation in the Swiss cities, midlands, and the Alps (EDGE)

The Swiss Energy Strategy 2050 is accompanied by a comprehensive restructuring of the energy supply system. The interdisciplinary EDGE-project has the overall objective to model these future energy systems for three model regions - the Swiss cities, the midlands and the alps - and to ensure, that by 2050, when ambitious shares of renewable energy are reached, the Swiss energy system is designed and operated in an optimal and safe way. 
Within this project, Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen and her team are well equipped to address questions of policy acceptance among the population as well as on cantonal policy effectiveness. Previous research shows that social acceptance depends on the specific design of policies and projects, but also on procedural factors and local conditions. The results of this comparative research on Swiss cities, midlands, and alpine regions will help to identify socially and politically feasibly implementation pathways of renewable energy solutions.

This project is funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy within the framework of SWEET funding programme. More information can be found here.

Project homepage

Sustainable and Resilient Energy for Switzerland (Sure)

The share of renewable energy has been constantly growing over the last years. A sustainable energy transition is associated with various technological, economic, social and environmental challenges. The goal of this interdisciplinary research project is to determine what is needed to ensure energy security in a sustainable and resilient manner, as well as to illustrate the trade-offs between competing goals related to this transformation of the energy sector. 

The political science perspective, for which Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen and her team are responsible, contributes to the project assessing how relevant political actors evaluate proposed scenarios and analysing the role of information for political stakeholders’ acceptance of resilient and sustainable scenarios. Moreover, gaming approaches will be used to study individual behaviour in future energy contexts.

This project is funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy within the framework of SWEET funding programme. More information can be found here.

Sociotechnological Breakthrough of Thermal Energy Storage - a new Approach of Constructive Technology Assessment (SOTES)

In the Energy Strategy (ES) 2050, approved at the ballot in May 2015, Switzerland has defined ambitious goals, which include a transition of the energy system from fossil/nuclear towards renewable energies. Seasonal or long-term thermal energy storages (STES) are used to transfer heat from summer to winter for heating purposes and are one central element of this energy transition. While other countries have already largely invested in STES, Switzerland’s dissemination of STES reduces to few demonstration type installations. This project builds on the argument that the reason for this is not a lack of technology, but hinges on the social acceptance of STES solutions. In this interdisciplinary project, political scientists and engineers are therefore working together on the overarching research question of how the breakthrough of long-term thermal storage in the residential sector in Switzerland can be achieved by analyzing the preferences of stakeholders and their acceptance of the technology.

This project is funded by the Sinergia scheme of the Swiss National Science Foundation and, beyond Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen and her team, involves researchers from HSLU, PSI, OST, and Interface Luzern.

Citizens‘ support of renewable electricity policies

Global warming and the unsolved issues in nuclear power technology (e.g., nuclear waste disposal, security) challenge the global community to change the energy supply and reduce energy consumption. In this context, increasing the share of renewable energy is seen as indispensable to solve the energy supply dilemma. This new orientation faces various challenges not only on a technical, but also on a political level. We argue that the governmental decision as such does not automatically induce energy turnaround. In order to make change happen, renewable energy projects and innovative policy instruments enhancing them have to be accepted and realized at the regional and local level. This is the starting point of this research project asking how effective policy change towards renewable energy can be achieved. We argue that – besides technology acceptance by the market – the acceptance of policies and instrument mixes is a crucial pre-condition for project success. Empirically, and via a comparative case study, social network analysis, and experimental survey design, we aim identifying the drivers and obstacles of alternative electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal and small scale hydro power).

This project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) within the framework of the National Research Programme "Managing Energy Consumption" (NRP 71).

More information here and here.

Related publications:

  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Clau DERMONT (2021). “Acceptance through Inclusion? Political and Economic Participation and the Acceptance of Local Renewable Energy Projects in Switzerland”, Energy Research & Social Science 71(1): 101818. 
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Christina EDER (2021). “Public opinion in policy contexts. A comparative analysis of domestic energy policies and individual policy preferences in Europe”, International Political Science Review 2(1): 78–94. 
  • DERMONT, Clau and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2020). “The role of policy and party information in direct-democratic campaigns”, International Journal of Public Opinion Research 32(3), Autumn 2020: 442-466. 
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle; RIEDER, Stefan and Chantal STROTZ (2020). “The politics of renewable energy production in a federalist context: The deployment of small hydropower in the Swiss cantons”, The Journal of Environment and Development, Special Issue on Energy Transition and Federalism, 29(1): 75–98. 
  • INGOLD, Karin, STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Lorenz KAMMERMANN (2019). “The Acceptance of Instruments in Policy Mix Situations: Citizens’ Perspective on Swiss Energy Transition”, Research Policy, Special Issue on Policy Mixes for Sustainability Transitions, 48(10): 103694. 
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle (2019). “Bad News Is Bad News: Information Effects and Citizens’ Socio-Political Acceptance of New Technologies of Electricity Transmission”, Land Use Policy 81: 531-545.
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Clau DERMONT (2018). “The unpopularity of incentive-based instruments: what improves the cost-benefit ratio?”, Public Choice 175: 37–62.
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle; INGOLD, Karin; RIEDER, Stefan; DERMONT, Clau; KAMMERMANN, Lorenz and Chantal STROTZ (2018). Akzeptanz erneuerbarer Energie. Universität Bern, Interface Politikstudien Forschung Beratung, EAWAG.
  • DERMONT, Clau, INGOLD, Karin, KAMMERMANN, Lorenz and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2017). “Bringing the policy making perspective in: A political science approach to social acceptance”, Energy Policy 108: 359-368 (Selected as “Highlighted papers in Energy Policy” by the editorial team).