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Knowledge, Use and Effectiveness of Social Acceptance Measures for Wind Projects

Die Kenntnis, Nutzung und Wirksamkeit von Maßnahmen zur Steigerung der Akzeptanz von Windprojekten


Wind energy is one of the key technologies to become independent of fossil fuels. Implementation of wind energy on a local level, however, has sometimes proved to be challenging and dealing with local acceptance of onshore wind turbines has become troublesome for some projects. Communication and public involvement are seen as strategies to prevent or respond to local opposition. This paper analyses the views of a variety of experts in wind energy on this matter. It focuses on eliciting their experiences with public participation measures. Furthermore, the perceived effectiveness of the measures for the social acceptance of wind energy projects is analysed. To do so, this paper draws on an expert survey among 207 individuals across Europe linked to wind energy projects. The analysis shows that negative reactions to wind farms are reported more frequently than positive reactions. In nearly 40% of cases, projects experience negative consequences on project development due to a lack of social acceptance, ranging from delays to changes in project plans and even termination. The vast majority of wind project developers respond to this by carrying out public participation activity at least sometimes. However, a much lower share does this systematically and the level of activity is low in early project phases. With regard to the relationship between project activities and project success, there is some support for the assumption that early and systematic involvement of the public and stakeholders is likely to reduce negative reactions.


Windenergie stellt eine der zentralen Technologien dar, um unabhängig von fossilen Brennstoffen zu werden. Auf der lokalen Ebene stellt die Umsetzung jedoch teilweise eine Herausforderung dar und die lokale Akzeptanz von Onshore Windkraftanlagen ist zu einem zentralen Thema geworden. Kommunikation und Bürgerbeteiligung werden als Strategien gesehen, um lokaler Opposition vorzubeugen oder dieser zu begegnen. In diesem Beitrag werden die Sichtweise von unterschiedlichen Experten aus dem Bereich Windenergie sowie ihre Erfahrungen mit Maßnahmen der Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung untersucht. Zudem wird die Wirksamkeit der Maßnahmen in Bezug auf die soziale Akzeptanz von Windenergieprojekten analysiert. Für die Analyse wird auf eine Expertenbefragung von 207 Personen im Zusammenhang mit Windenergieprojekten zurückgegriffen. Die Untersuchung zeigt, dass häufiger negative als positive Reaktionen auf Windfarmen berichtet werden. In fast 40 % der Fälle hat ein Mangel an sozialer Akzeptanz negative Folgen für die Projektentwicklung, welche von zeitlichen Verzögerungen bis zum Stopp des Projekts reichen. Die große Mehrheit der Projektentwickler reagiert darauf, indem zumindest ab und zu Aktivitäten zur Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung durchgeführt werden. Ein viel kleinerer Anteil tut dies jedoch systematisch und in frühen Projektphasen ist nur ein geringes Aktivitätslevel zu verzeichnen. In Bezug auf einen Zusammenhang zwischen den Aktivitäten und dem Erfolg des Projekts geben die Analysen Hinweise darauf, dass frühes und systematisches Beteiligen der Öffentlichkeit und Interessensgruppen negative Reaktionen reduzieren kann.

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  1. She differentiates between different forms of public participation: non-participation (manipulation and therapy), tokenism (informing, consultation and placation) and citizen power (partnership, delegated power and citizen control). Engagement (manipulation, informing or consulting) with the public is at the lowest level and citizen control (delegated power) is on top level (Arnstein 1969).

  2. Single-sample t‑test.

  3. The positive and negative issues were derived from a review of best practices, guidelines and toolkits on social acceptance in the wind energy sector. This review was part of the WISE Power project and its results are described in Deliverable 2.1 (Dütschke and Wesche 2014).

  4. There is quite a high number of missing values in these questions; the remaining sample is 41–51 respondents.

  5. Again there is quite a high number of missing values in these questions; the remaining sample is 41–50 respondents.


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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Intelligent Energy – Europe Programme (WISE Power Project) (IEE/13/528/SI2.674872).

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Correspondence to Elisabeth Dütschke.

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Appendix: Questionnaire

Appendix: Questionnaire

Table 2 Correlations between various negative reactions to wind farms
Table 3 Correlations between various positive reactions to wind farms

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Dütschke, E., Schneider, U. & Wesche, J. Knowledge, Use and Effectiveness of Social Acceptance Measures for Wind Projects. Z Energiewirtsch 41, 299–310 (2017).

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  • Wind Projects
  • Social Acceptance
  • Publication Participation
  • Wind Farm
  • Wind Energy