Journal Article

A turbine is not only a turbine: The role of social context and fairness characteristics for the local acceptance of wind power

Energy Policy, Volume 107, August 2017: 300-308

To gain acceptance for renewable energy production sites, it is not sufficient to develop the appropriate technology without taking the social context and fairness concerns into account. Using a factorial survey experiment, we investigate the influence of both on the local acceptance of wind turbine developments in Germany and Poland–two countries differing in installed wind power capacity. Respondents were surveyed with hypothetical situations describing the construction of wind farms varying in the opportunity to participate in the planning process (participatory justice), the distribution of turbines across regions (distributive justice), and ownership, among other characteristics. We find higher acceptance levels in Poland than in Germany. Respondents in both countries are willing to accept new turbines in their vicinity if they can participate in decision making, the turbines are owned by a group of citizens, and if the generated electricity is consumed in the region instead of being exported. Overall, participatory justice is more important than distributive justice. Confirming previous results, we also find that respondents who already have turbines in their vicinity show higher acceptance levels than those who are not yet affected. Thus, the negative externalities are likely to be overestimated in the planning and implementation process.


Ulf Liebe
Anna Bartczak
Jürgen Meyerhoff