Why we still don't understand the social aspects of wind power: A critique of key assumptions within the literature
The literature on public attitudes to wind power is underpinned by key assumptions which limit its scope and restrict the findings it can present. Five key assumptions are that: (1) The majority of the public supports wind power. (2) Opposition to wind power is therefore deviant. (3) Opponents are ignorant or misinformed. (4) The reason for understanding opposition is to overcome it. (5) Trust is key. The paper calls for critical reflection on each of these assumptions. It should not be assumed that opposition to wind power is deviant/illegitimate. Opposition cannot be dismissed as ignorant or misinformed instead it must be acknowledged that objectors are often very knowledgeable. Public attitudes and responses to wind power should not be examined in order to mitigate potential future opposition, but rather in order to understand the social context of renewable energy. Trust is identified as a key issue, however greater trust must be placed in members of the public and in their knowledge. In sum, the literature must abandon the assumption that it knows who is 'right' and instead must engage with the possibility that objectors to wind power are not always 'wrong'.
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- Breukers, Sylvia & Wolsink, Maarten, 2007. "Wind power implementation in changing institutional landscapes: An international comparison," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 2737-2750, May.
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- van der Horst, Dan, 2007. "NIMBY or not? Exploring the relevance of location and the politics of voiced opinions in renewable energy siting controversies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 2705-2714, May.
- Wolsink, Maarten, 2000. "Wind power and the NIMBY-myth: institutional capacity and the limited significance of public support," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 49-64.
- Ek, Kristina, 2005. "Public and private attitudes towards "green" electricity: the case of Swedish wind power," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(13), pages 1677-1689, September.
- Toke, David & Breukers, Sylvia & Wolsink, Maarten, 2008. "Wind power deployment outcomes: How can we account for the differences?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 1129-1147, May.
- Wolsink, Maarten, 2007. "Wind power implementation: The nature of public attitudes: Equity and fairness instead of 'backyard motives'," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 11(6), pages 1188-1207, August.
- Geraint Ellis & John Barry & Clive Robinson, 2007. "Many ways to say 'no', different ways to say 'yes': Applying Q-Methodology to understand public acceptance of wind farm proposals," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(4), pages 517-551.
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