| Erfurt Laboratory for Empirical Research, SPF Bildung. Schule. Verhalten., Forschung

"Solar Empowerment" research project launched

How can energy be saved or produced in an environmentally friendly way? This question has become more urgent than ever, not least due to the noticeable progress of climate change and the Ukraine war. One possible answer is to invest in renewable energies such as photovoltaics – also on a private level by homeowners. But many of them can only poorly or not at all assess the potential that their house brings with it for this. The "Solar Empowerment" research project, a collaborative effort between the University of Erfurt, the city of Weimar and the ThEGA state energy agency, aims to change that.

To this end, ThEGA used satellite data to determine the solar potential of thousands of Weimar buildings and calculate how many photovoltaic modules can be installed on them and how much energy can be generated. In a second step, the University of Erfurt will now write to homeowners to inform them about their individual options for installing a solar system on their own roofs and offer them the opportunity to obtain further information through various channels. These responses will then be analyzed and evaluated by the end of the year.

Dr Thomas Lauer, scientific managing director of the Erfurt Laboratory for Empirical Research (ErfurtLab) at the University of Erfurt, is heading the project on behalf of the University of Erfurt. As a behavioral economist, he researches how people make decisions in an economic context. "A central role is played by the effort required to search for information and how the information is prepared," Lauer emphasizes. "A project like this allows us to obtain data in this regard not under laboratory conditions, as is usually the case, but directly in the field. We are interested in the quantity but also, above all, the quality of the responses – ultimately the question of whether individually tailored, detailed information leads to an intensification of photovoltaic expansion."

The findings from "Solar Empowerment" can then be used to accelerate the expansion of alternative energies in other regions as well. The cooperation with the city of Weimar forms the pilot project for this. But the interest is great. Other municipalities and regions have already expressed their interest, says Lauer.  

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