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01/29/2018 | Pressemitteilung

Federal population satisfied with energy turnaround measures

The majority of Germans are satisfied with the goals and measures for implementing the energy transition, but see problems with the distribution of costs. This is the result of two studies by the Department of Empirical Economic Research at the University of Kassel. The authors also uncover new insights into the attitudes of critics of the energy turnaround.

The studies were written by Andreas Ziegler, Professor of Empirical Economic Research at the University of Kassel, and Elke Groh, a member of staff at the department. An already known result: The core measures of the energy transition are accepted by the majority of the population. This applies in particular to the promotion of renewable energies and the nuclear phase-out. For the first time, the two economists from Kassel have examined the factors for the approval of the measures: Relevant are social and political values, but also economic advantages and disadvantages for consumers.

In particular, the overall low level of dislike for the nuclear phase-out depends on political values: Citizens with liberal or conservative views reject the nuclear phase-out more often than average. Those with green or social views, on the other hand, are significantly more likely to support it. The same applies to people who do not necessarily associate the energy turnaround with higher electricity costs. A completely new finding is that most consumers expect energy prices to rise in any case - even in the hypothetical case that the energy turnaround is not implemented.

There are contradictory attitudes when it comes to financing the energy turnaround. A large proportion of Germans think the distribution of costs is unfair. This basically follows the polluter pays principle, which makes consumers with high pollutant emissions pay more. At the same time, however, most respondents favored this polluter pays principle over other distribution principles, such as the egalitarian principle (equal per capita payments) or the ability-to-pay principle (households with higher incomes have to pay more).

"In this context, it becomes apparent that economic self-interest plays a dominant role in the approval or rejection of individual burden-sharing rules," Ziegler said. For example, households with higher energy expenditures are more likely to reject the polluter pays principle than households with lower energy expenditures. "These results suggest that some arguments for rejecting energy transition measures due to an unfair distribution of their costs or even the risk of energy poverty are often purely strategic and not value-based."

For the two studies, more than 2,200 households across Germany were surveyed in detail about their opinions on the energy transition and its financing. They are part of the "Soko Energiewende" research project, which was financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMFB) from 2013 to 2016.

Both studies can be viewed online at: