“Basic challenge to concerning social acceptance” is a chapter in the edited volume "Renewable energy Systems”, L.Y. Kaltschmitt, M., N.J. Themelis, L.Y. Bronicki, L. Söder & L.A. Vega (Eds.), Springer, NewYork.
The chapter gives the most comprehensive overview of social acceptance, so emphatically more than the confusing and limited idea of public acceptance of wind power. Social acceptance is a bundle of processes of developing positive or negative decisions on wind power implmentation. It deals with all subjects significant in social acceptance, listed below, including definitions. It provides more than 200 references and some further readings.
Glossary: definitions of all distinguished concepts in social acceptance.
Definition of the Subject:
The willingness to accept phenomena related to innovation of different parts of society, including all realms beyond “the public,” can be subdivided in two broad categories:
– Acceptance of the creation of new socioeconomic conditions needed for implementation.
– Acceptance of the consequences of the implementation: implementation will affect current practices in society and forcing some to change.
Introduction: Four Starting Points:
It is not about acceptance of technical systems, but about socio-technical systems; hence institutional factors (structural components of social organization around renewable energy) are key elements.
– All aspects of a new STS featuring a substantial amount of wind power are subject to social acceptance.
– An actor may accept certain aspects, while simultaneously rejecting other aspects, as a result of social, economic, and/or political learning processes.
Existing institutions (existing patterns of behavior as determined by existing societal rules) often impede the development and implementation of new views, approaches, techniques, and practices required for the implementation of wind power.
Some lingering common sense ideas must be abandoned: The objection to any wind power development must be considered as a potentially legitimate, rational, and informed position: All positive, active support as well as passive supporting attitudes, are equally important for obtaining a good understanding of the acceptance of wind power.
Dimensions of Social Acceptance of Energy Innovation
Social acceptance of wind power – as other renewables’innovations – contains three main dimesions: Socio-political acceptance, market acceptance, and community acceptance. Public acceptance should not be misinterpreted as a proxy for social acceptance, as it only covers a small part of all three, and it does often not run parallel with social acceptance.
As the first component in the social dimension of the socio-technical system, all relevant social actors involved in the process of acceptance must be considered. Again, this goes far beyond ‘public’ acceptance.
Subjects of Acceptance:
the attributes of acceptance are outlines, emphasizing the large differences between accepptance of general implementation of a technique, such as wind power, from acceptance of concrete projects. In fact these two are only weekly related, as their attributed are very different. Special attrnetion id given to the overly simplistic, and very destructive common sense idea that the ‘gap’ between these two ― in fact the term ‘gap’ is very questionable itself — inmplies the existence of nimby-attitudes.
The shape and the reliability of the financial procurement system, which is of overwhelming importance for the utilization of the potentially significant willingness to invest in wind developments; 2. The type and amount of effective support generated within the national and regional planning system for policies that develop wind power capacity; 3. The degree to which collaborative decision making on the level of communities is allowed and stimulated by the sociopolitical framework.
Historically, the focus within this issue of social acceptance of renewable energy innovation has been on public acceptance as the cornerstone of community acceptance. Community acceptance refers to the specific acceptance of siting decisions and renewable energy projects by local stakeholders, particularly residents and local authorities.
Social acceptance can also be interpreted as market acceptance or as the process of market adoption of an innovative STS.
Significant Attributes Connected to Identity:
Three categories of impact can be distinguished that are discussed in almost any case: landscape, wildlife, and annoyance issues.
The issue of social acceptance of wind power will come to the fore even more prominent in the coming decades, but the character of acceptance issues in the three dimensions will probably change. The current awareness of the required space for sustainable energy supply is still limited and, hence, the consequences in terms of landscape occupation and potential environmental conflicts are neither fully recognized. The main question of social acceptance will remain how to build sociopolitical and market acceptance for the collaborative way of planning and decision making that is needed. This key to the large number of positive investment and space-making decisions will even become more important because wind power is becoming increasingly part of an all-embracing STS of integrated sustainable energy supply. The new power supply system will have to integrate growing numbers of distributed generation units. The integration of all the components of sustainable power generation, including the mutual fine-tuning and optimization of local supply and demand and possibly with the introduction of local storage capacity must be embedded an intelligent “smart grid”, with many acceptance issues itself — as it runs fully counter to our existing centralized and hierarchically organized power supply system. The social acceptance of wind power will become embedded in the acceptance of all kinds of decisions about this future STS of sustainable energy supply and demand.