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Participation with impact Is financial participation the key to greater acceptance of renewable energies? This assumption seems plausible, but the reality is more complex.

How are financial participation in local energy projects, regional economic effects and local acceptance related? Are there interactions and, if so, to what extent? A research network consisting of the Agency for Renewable Energies (AEE), the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the Institute for Future Energy and Material Flow Systems (IZES) conducted surveys over a period of two years in six municipalities that are using different financial participation models to develop renewable energies.

Among the energy projects considered are three wind farms, two photovoltaic projects and one bioenergy village. Due to the different possibilities of financial participation, the local economic benefit also varies. Value creation is generated in various ways: for example, through leases if the land on which the plants are located belongs to the municipality, through trade tax, or through classic forms of participation such as equity shares or fixed-interest investments by citizens.

The studies in the various municipalities show that there are often complex impact paths between the actual value generated and the acceptance effect among the population. It became clear that, in order for the financial offers to have an effect on acceptance, citizens must be able to perceive them in the first place and recognize the value generated.

From this, the authors conclude that for an increase in the acceptance of energy projects, the basic offer of fair participation opportunities for the broad population in the region is central. The concrete advantages should be communicated to the residents in a differentiated, transparent and tangible way. It should also be taken into account that as many components of the project as possible are taken over by regional actors in order to achieve the greatest regional economic benefit locally. To this end, the municipality itself can profit from the operator's profits over and above the business tax revenues as the owner of the plant, and at the same time ensure that participation opportunities are also created for citizens.

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