University of Delaware professor Jeremy Firestone worked with an international team led by the U.S. Department of Energy to better understand public opinion on wind energy.
More than 1.3 million homes sit within five miles of a wind turbine, according to UD, but little is known about the perception of these towering neighbors.
The survey aimed to fill this gap in knowledge by talking with households living near land-based wind power projects. The results showed that attitudes were often shaped early on by developer transparency and the community's feelings of fairness.
“If there is some give and take on the number and location of wind turbines, you will end up with happier communities where people feel they had a legitimate voice in the process,” Firestone said.
Holding open meetings, however, won't improve public perceptions on their own, according to the survey. Residents need to feel as though they actually had a hand in the design, layout and location of the turbines.
“Given the price drops of renewable energy projects over the last few years, I expect we will see more land-based wind and commercial solar projects,” Firestone said. “If developers want to continue building projects then it is important to be sensitive to these issues.”
Firestone directs UD’s Center for Carbon Free Power Integration (CCPI) and is a professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy.