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15. September 2022

International Democracy Day: How the RLI contributes

Porträts von Mascha Richter und Editha Kötter nebeneinander, in der Lücke zwischen ihren Köpfen ist ein Icon mit fünf ausgestreckten Händen als Symbol für Demokratie.

September 15th 2022 | September 15th is International Democracy Day. On this occasion, Mascha Richter and Editha Kötter explain how the RLI supports democracy with its research work and how the open science principle we follow at the RLI can make political decisions more transparent. They jointly head the research unit Transformation of Energy Systems. There, they also develop tools to involve citizens in the energy transition. Stakeholder empowerment tools (StEmp tools) are simulation-based, digital tools that help people in participation processes to make decisions and their consequences more transparent and to understand them better.



What contribution can RLI’s scientific work make to strengthening democracy?

Editha Kötter: At the RLI, we develop digital tools that simplify access to information on energy supply and energy transition. A common knowledge base enables participation, a cornerstone of democracy. In the PV and wind area calculator, for example, you can look at where and why wind turbines can be built. This enables a fact-based discussion.

How does RLI help citizens participate in the energy transition?

Mascha Richter: We develop and publish stakeholder empowerment tools (StEmp tools) on the internet. Interested persons can look at different aspects of the energy transition for different regions. For example, energy requirements and potentials for renewable energies are presented. Users can create various supply scenarios for the region themselves.

With these tools, citizens can form their own picture of the possibilities of the energy transition and develop their own solution scenarios. This enables constructive and active participation in public discourse.

What does the open science principle stand for at the RLI?

Editha Kötter: We follow the open science principle for a fast implementation of the energy transition. This succeeds with the courage to leave the old system behind. Scientific reputation and economic success should not depend on hiding important findings. Because we see no room for that in the face of climate change. We publish our scientific articles with open access wherever possible, so that readers do not have to pay for them. We release our software freely and invite others to extend it. We also do this with data, the foundation of any computation. For this purpose, we have built the Open Energy platform with like-minded people. This way, scientific work can build on each other and be accelerated.

What are the benefits of open science for democratic politics?

Mascha Richter: If information and scientific findings are publicly accessible, they can also be used by decision-makers. Politicians can therefore use our research results to derive political actions from them – for a policy that is based on facts. This can make political decisions more transparent and comprehensible for citizens – because the facts are available for reference.


More information on the stakeholder empowerment tools can be found here. Examples for RLI-projetcs focussing on citizen’s participation are EmPowerPlan: Regional planning of energy transition and Digital Planning Atlas Anhalt – DigiPlan.


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