VVMplus - Addressing local opposition to new renewable energy installations through improved practice of EIA

Project Details

 
Project Partners
  • Aalborg University, The Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment (DCEA) – Project Leader
  • Danish Technical University (DTU), DTU Wind Energy Department
  • Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy
Project Span Apr 2016 – Dec 2017
Project Country Denmark
Funding This project is co-funded by ForskEL
Type of project Research project
Project website www.vvmplus.dk

Project Motivation

In spite of the general support for renewable energies, there is lack of local acceptance of concrete plants. This is a key barrier for the transition to an electricity system based on renewable energies.

In Denmark, local opposition is mostly to wind power and biogas plants. Nevertheless, opposition to solar energy is increasing and other technologies, e.g. energy storages, could meet resistance in the future too. Abroad other renewable energy technologies such as hydropower and coastal wave energy also have to deal with local opposition.

Knowledge of public acceptance is fragmented in Denmark. Individual R&D projects focus on specific technologies (e.g. “Wind2050” and “Konstruktiv Borgerinddragelse”) and there is not a comprehensive overview of local opposition across renewable energies or of the direct cause of the resistance.

Local perception of renewable energy projects is influenced by the environmental impact assessment (EIA). In Denmark, the EIA process is the main arena for dialogue between project developers, local authorities and local citizens.

Social impacts appear to be a key factor to achieve local acceptance and the EIA can and should include them. Often included social consequences are general considerations on negative local impacts, but they are not analysed in depth, quantified or mitigated.

In other countries, such as Canada and Australia, the social impact assessment is a completely different proactively tool for dialogue between citizens, developers and authority on how projects are implemented in a manner that is acceptable to the public. Here positive impacts and opportunities for local communities are well explained, whereas in Denmark they are implicit, ignored or excluded from the agenda –even though they may be important for local acceptance.

Project Objective

The goal is to show the way to bring Danish EIA practice to the level of other countries such as Canada and Australia in order to increase local acceptance of different renewable energy projects and consequently enable transition to renewable energies (at a lower cost). This will be done by the development of improved methods of handling and discussing social consequences of renewable energy projects.

Project Activities

Research:
Based on national and international literature research and interviews and workshops with relevant stakeholders, the project:

  • mapped EIA practice about social consequences related to RE technologies,
  • analysed of the relationships between the basis of the dialogue on social consequences and conflict,
  • analysed the structural limitations and opportunities to address social impacts related to RE technologies,
  • compared international experience with the Danish EIA context,
  • developed improved methods for handling and discussing local social consequences in the EIA, and
  • tested and evaluated the developed methods.

Communication:
Research results and conclusions were disseminated to local and national authorities, consultants, RE project developers, researchers, NGOs, renewable energy associations and the general public.