This article comes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and is authored by Joseph Rand and Ben Hoen.
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.
Background and motivation
Over the last 30 years, wind energy in North America has evolved from a fringe, isolated, experimental concept into a mainstream and viable source of electricity, meeting about 5% of U.S. electricity demand (6% in Canada) and representing the largest source of new electric capacity additions in many recent years  ; . Wind energy is widely seen as an abundant electricity source with the potential to provide a wide range of environmental and social benefits . State/provincial-level mandates, federal incentives, declining wind energy costs, and relatively favorable economics have spurred the aggressive North American wind deployment of the past 10–15 years .
This rapid growth in wind energy deployment will likely continue. In the United States, for example, recent market analysis suggests that annual wind power capacity additions are expected to continue rapidly in the coming five years (, p. 1) driven by expected lower prices . Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent Wind Vision Report, which outlines pathways for wind energy to provide up to 35% of the nation’s electrical demand by 2050, suggests that the “low hanging fruit” wind sites (those that have good wind resources and are close to loads and transmission, yet far from communities) have largely been developed, implying that future wind development likely will happen increasingly near communities. As such, the report underlines the need for a better understanding of the drivers of wind facility acceptance among affected communities . This recommendation echoes the calls of numerous social scientists, who have suggested that successful implementation of U.S. wind projects relies on a deeper understanding of local stakeholders (e.g., ).
Multiple facets of acceptance can impact the deployment of renewable energy projects. Wüstenhagen et al.  point to three dimensions: Sociopolitical acceptance (acceptance of policymakers and key stakeholders), market acceptance (acceptance of investors and consumers), and community acceptance (pertaining to procedural justice, distributional justice, and trust). However, as Sovacool ( , p. 4511) points out, these social, technical, economic, and political dimensions of acceptance all influence each other in an integrated, “pernicious tangle.” For example, community acceptance of wind energy can affect market acceptance and vice versa.
Indeed, this has been the case when local opposition has delayed or derailed proposed wind projects ;  ; . For years, debates around wind energy acceptance in North America focused on sociopolitical and market acceptance, pertaining largely to technological innovation, economic incentives, and impacts on the operations and resiliency of the electric grid, with less attention paid to societal impacts  ; . However, the rapid growth of North American wind energy has increased the footprint of wind developments, increasing local conflicts and bringing the issue of community acceptance to the forefront .
For the rest of the article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629617301275
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