The Integration of Energy Conservation into the Political Goal of Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency—A German Case Study Based on a Longitudinal Reconstruction
Many local governments in Germany aim to reach Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency (RESS) in their municipalities. In this context, ambitious time horizons for reaching this goal make it necessary to address the question of how less absolute energy can be consumed. The topic of energy conservation in scientific literature is very controversially discussed and in fact it is not clear which measures in the long term contribute to real reductions in energy demand. Therefore, in this paper, we do not determine how energy conservation should be achieved. Instead, we reconstruct, through an inductive longitudinal study, why energy conservation was integrated into the general principles of a municipality that wished to reach “RESS” by the year 2020 and considerably reduce energy demand. At the same time, we looked at the question of how energy conservation was conceptualized by local actors and which strategies, instruments, and activities were used to reach the goal. We found that environmentally concerned citizens brought the idea of energy conservation into the political arena. However, it was not until energy prices rose, regulations developed on a national level, subsidies for energy conservation emerged, and actions addressing the issue were seen by many local actors as adding value to the unique character the municipality gained by their RESS activities, that the actual subject was considered relevant in the municipality.
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