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Michael Griesen, born on October 12th, 1980 in Lower Saxony, Germany,
graduated in 2006 in agricultural economics. In 2003 he went abroad to Uppsala (Sweden) for a few month. There he studied especially environmental and ecological problems of the tropics and their impacts on the social and economical capital of affected citizens. To deepen this knowledge he took part in a project in Kondoa/Tanzania in 2004. Afterwards he continued his studies in Bonn focussing these interests and read environmental economics and social research. While his studies he hold different scholarships and did internships (e.g. Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection). After his graduation he worked at the Institute for Food and Resource Economics, University of Bonn. The scholarship of the Reiner-Lemoine-Stiftung is connected to this work, Michael analyses the "acceptance of biogasplants in rural areas".
"The Acceptance of Biogas Plants in Rural Areas"
The government of the Federal Republic of Germany increasingly promoted renewable energies during the last years. Until 2010 the amount of renewable energies in terms of the Primary Energy Consumption ought to be doubled, until 2050 halve of the energy should derive from regenerative sources. To achieve this ambitious aim, financial incentives have been created leading to a boom of biogas plants. Accompanied by the approach of the "farmer as an energy-producer" many farmers are considering to build biogas plants. Similar to wind power plants the fast development of the amount of biogas plants up to 5000 plants (doubling within two years) and technical innovation needs to be reviewed. The allocation of biogas plants is still coupled with animal production, but a strong trend towards plants which are only run with "energy crops" can be observed. These plants often produce more than 500 kW and are mostly fed with energy maize. While most researchers focus on the improvement of the choice of location regarding heat, organisation possibilities or breeding, the social acceptance was not sufficiently considered so far: in the last two years local conflicts between operators of biogas plants and residents arose. The fear of heavy loads, inadequate locations for silage, olfactory and noisy disturbance, changes of landscapes and negative influences for the tourism increased as well as the conflicts inside the agricultural sector with regard to the competition of fields for food production and compensating sanctions for nature conservation.
A regional survey of potentials analysing these aspects is postulated, but is not available so far. Such an approach needs an acceptance analysis of the citizens, farmers and representatives of the local public authorities. Different lifestyles and values even in rural areas lead to different positions regarding nature, biogas plants, agriculture and risk-benefit-analyses. The knowledge about parameters, which influence the acceptance of biogas plants, like stereotypes about agriculture, openness for new technologies in general, journalism and confidence to local players, is still marginal.
The aim of the project is, to appropriate the acceptance of biogas plants, the kind of acceptance and factors, which influence the acceptance, e.g.:
• to identify the knowledge of renewable energies and biogas plants of the rural population,
• to evaluate the fears and expectations of the residents,
• to analyse their sense for the environment, landscape and recreation function of nature
Recommended actions derived from this project can improve the acceptance of biogas plants in rural areas and reduce the potential for conflicts during planning phase and building of biogas plants. Thereby the aims of the energy policy and the amelioration of farmer's income can be implemented in a better way.