Discrete-choice experiments valuing local environmental impacts of renewables: two approaches to a case study in Portugal
Despite the often mentioned environmental benefits associated with transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, their use for electricity production has non-negligible negative environmental impacts. The most commonly mentioned in surveys concern different types of landscape impacts, impacts on the fauna and flora, and noise. These impacts differ by size and location of plants, and by source of energy, rendering the policy decision complex. In addition, there are other welfare issues to take into consideration, as positive and negative environmental impacts are not evenly distributed among population groups. This paper proposes to compare the welfare impacts of renewable energy sources controlling for the type of renewable as well as the specific environmental impact by source. To this end, two discrete-choice experiments are designed and applied to a national sample of the Portuguese population. In one case, only individual negative impacts of renewables are used, and in another case, the negative impacts interact with a specific source. Results show the robustness of discrete-choice experiments as a method to estimate the welfare change induced by the impacts of renewable energy sources. Overall, respondents are willing to pay to reduce the environmental impacts, thus making compensation for local impacts feasible. Moreover, the estimations reveal that respondents are significantly sensitive to the detrimental environmental effects of specific renewable energy sources, being willing to pay more to use these sources of energy relative to others.
KeywordsRenewable energy sources Discrete-choice experiments Environmental impacts Public attitudes
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