Perception and acceptance of geothermal energy projects from different stakeholder perspectives

Project description

The carbon footprint of geothermal energy is low, it is considered an environmentally friendly, sustainable technology, and its resources are renewable. Geothermal energy is part of the energy transition in Germany and is seen as a promising resource for renewable energy.

However, citizens where such plants are built are not always convinced by the technology, but protest against the development of deep geothermal energy. What are their main concerns about geothermal energy and why are they skeptical of the new technology?

Several case studies describe the local understanding and concerns of stakeholders and citizens in two different regions in Germany and Switzerland. Focus groups with stakeholders and citizens analyzed regional belief patterns and understanding of local debates. Their understanding of renewable energy and the transformation process is as heterogeneous as the local communities themselves and depends on their historical and current development in the community. Collective beliefs toward new technologies such as geothermal energy can be captured and understood by mapping the arguments (frames) and their distribution across communities. Stakeholders contextualize geothermal energy with events and interpret and evaluate the technology in different frames. Depending on the frame, it can be perceived as an opportunity and technical advance or as dangerous. In the case studies, participation is seen as an important tool to address public concerns and support the planning and implementation of geothermal projects in the communities.

Administrative data

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Simone Strambach, Philipps-Universität Marburg
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Jörg Bendix, Philipps-Universität Marburg and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ortwin Renn, University of Stuttgart
Related project: Use of geothermal energy for climate-neutral heat supply at KIT (Campus North) – inter- and transdisciplinary co-design of an implementation concept (GECKO)
Doctoral students at ITAS: see Doctoral studies at ITAS


Christina Benighaus
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS)
Postfach 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: 0721 608-23225