Journal Article

Public Acceptance and Preferences Related to Renewable Energy and Grid Expansion Policy: Empirical insights for Germany

September 30, 2016

Energy, Vol. 114, No. 1, November, 2016, pp. 465-477

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The rapid expansion of renewable energy sources (RES) in many European countries brings about transmission grid expansion requirements. While the transition towards RES-based energy systems is largely perceived positively in general, locally both RES and grid expansion are often confronted with a lack of public acceptance. Using Germany as a case study, we analyse public acceptance of energy infrastructure and its main drivers on local vs. national levels. For this purpose, we conducted a nationally representative survey. Our results show that, on a national level, the acceptance of RES is very high and there is also a high acceptance of grid expansion if it helps to increase the share of RES in the system. In terms of local acceptance problems that may arise for most considered technologies, concerns about landscape modification turn out to be the main driving factor. Moreover, the distance between places of residence and places of energy infrastructure construction is crucial. While acceptance or rejection of technologies will never be entirely tangible or explicable, we find the explicability of rejections to be lowest for new technologies. Finally, age and education turn out to be the most relevant socio-demographic variables determining the participants' acceptance.