Journal Article

Public acceptance of renewable electricity generation and transmission network developments: Insights from Ireland

February 15, 2021

Energy Policy, Vol, 151, April 2021, 112185

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This paper analyses how people’s attitudes towards onshore wind power and overhead transmission lines affect the cost-optimal development of electricity generation mixes, under a high renewable energy policy. A power systems generation and transmission expansion planning model is used for the analysis, combined with a novel additional modelling constraint incorporating public acceptance of energy infrastructure. In the scenarios examined the least cost solutions increase by as much as 33% compared to a base case where the constraint on public acceptance of energy infrastructure is excluded. In the most extreme public acceptance scenario considered, the greatest share of additional costs (>80%) is related to value of lost load, while additional investment and operational costs associated with public acceptance constraints for new energy infrastructure are between 5–6% of base case costs. The results are indicative of the cost that power systems face in reflecting the public’s preferences for new energy infrastructure in generation and grid expansion planning. Power system modelling that ignores the public’s acceptance of new energy infrastructure may offer generation or transmission pathways that are likely to be sub-optimal in practice.