Keep it local and bird-friendly - Social acceptance of wind energy in Switzerland, Estonia and Ukraine
Pascal Vuichard, Anna Ebers Broughel, Andrea Tabi, Rolf Wüstenhagen
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, such as siting. 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=2,003) that examines the social acceptance of wind energy projects in Switzerland, Estonia and Ukraine through choice experiments. Our findings suggest high overall acceptance levels for wind farms in all three countries. Despite differences in history, economic development, energy mix, and electricity market structure, local populations in all three countries show relatively similar preferences with respect to the most important project attributes shaping social acceptance. Low environmental impact, careful siting, as well as local ownership are the top three characteristics shaping the social acceptance of a wind energy project. We conclude that projects should be developed by local actors and remain friendly to wildlife – keeping them local and bird-friendly.