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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Thirty years of North American wind energy acceptance research: What have we learned?

  • Author(s): Rand, J
  • Hoen, B
  • et al.

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Thirty years of North American research on public acceptance of wind energy has produced important insights, yet knowledge gaps remain. This review synthesizes the literature, revealing the following lessons learned. (1) North American support for wind has been consistently high. (2) The NIMBY explanation for resistance to wind development is invalid. (3) Socioeconomic impacts of wind development are strongly tied to acceptance. (4) Sound and visual impacts of wind facilities are strongly tied to annoyance and opposition, and ignoring these concerns can exacerbate conflict. (5) Environmental concerns matter, though less than other factors, and these concerns can both help and hinder wind development. (6) Issues of fairness, participation, and trust during the development process influence acceptance. (7) Distance from turbines affects other explanatory variables, but alone its influence is unclear. (8) Viewing opposition as something to be overcome prevents meaningful understandings and implementation of best practices. (9) Implementation of research findings into practice has been limited. The paper also identifies areas for future research on wind acceptance. With continued research efforts and a commitment toward implementing research findings into developer and policymaker practice, conflict and perceived injustices around proposed and existing wind energy facilities might be significantly lessened.

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