Keep it local and bird-friendly: Exploring the social acceptance of wind energy in Switzerland, Estonia, and Ukraine

Vuichard, Pascal; Broughel, Anna; Wüstenhagen, Rolf; Tabi, Andrea; Knauf, Jakob
Energy Research & Social Science 88, 1-15 (2022)

The literature on social acceptance of wind energy has identified several important characteristics shaping the social acceptance of a planned project. These include distributional and procedural justice, as well as other project-related factors. Project characteristics do not exist in isolation and influence one another. Furthermore, social acceptance of wind energy is likely to vary geographically, due to cross-country differences. As a result, the need for more consistent cross-country comparisons has been highlighted in the literature as an important research gap. The current paper addresses this gap with the help of a large-scale cross-country analysis (N = 2003) that examines the social acceptance of wind energy projects in Switzerland, Estonia, and Ukraine through choice experiments. Our analysis shows some exploratory evidence for country-specific differences: A tradition of direct democratic decision-making might lead to placing more emphasis on procedural justice, and we also identify some early evidence for differences between individualist and collectivist countries in terms of preferences for distributional justice. However, we also find that ecological impact was the most important attribute in all three countries, and respondents tend to appreciate local ownership. We conclude that projects should be developed by local actors and remain friendly to wildlife – keeping them local and bird-friendly.

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