Acceptance of renewable energies: key players and processes

The picture shows a vote

The role of the key players and of the social acceptance of renewable energies varies depending on the stage and design of the political process.

​If a new energy law needs to be introduced or a wind turbine built, it is not only technical aspects which are important – social acceptance also plays a key role. The NRP 71 project “Acceptance of renewable energy” headed by Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen from the Institute of Political Science at the University of Berne is examining the mechanisms for creating social acceptance and market acceptance of projects to generate electricity from renewable energy sources.

The research team is developing a new framework to conceptualise social acceptance in connection with renewable energies. Unlike earlier studies, the researchers argue in particular for greater integration of the political process: depending on the point at which the corresponding stakeholders can be found in the political process and how this process is designed, there is variation in the role of the key players and of social acceptance. For example, the population has to show active support for a new energy law at the ballot box, while in less participative contexts “no opposition” already suffices. These differentiations need to be taken into consideration not only when studying social acceptance but also when planning political processes.

The results have been published by the research team in the scientific journal “Energy Policy”. The publishers have selected the article with the title “Bringing the policy making perspective in: A political science approach to social acceptance” as one of seven “highlighted papers” and it can therefore be viewed for free until the end of the year.