Why does community ownership foster greater acceptance of renewable projects? Investigating energy justice explanations

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Abstract

The fact that community ownership increases the social acceptability of renewable energy projects is well established, but there is a lack of empirical evidence to explain why this is the case. This study examines whether energy justice factors (fair involvement, fair distribution of benefits and perceived impacts from wind turbines) can help explain this relationship, whether these factors are interrelated, and whether different ownership structures (community, shared or private ownership) change these associations. Using a postal survey of residents in Scotland (n = 320), the study employs a novel method, Multigroup-Structural Equation Modelling, to investigate these questions. This modelling reveals that acceptance of these projects was influenced by factors of energy justice (i.e. fair involvement, fair benefits and perceived impacts), but the influence from each factor depended on the ownership structure. Specifically, those near the community-owned project prioritised involvement, those near the privately-owned valued fair benefits, and those near the shared ownership prioritised both. By examining the relationships amongst energy justice factors, the real-life complexity of people’s responses to wind energy projects is revealed, whereby factors can have knock-on effects. Importantly, this study finds that the community and shared ownership projects fostered greater community acceptance than the privately-owned because they had more instances where fair involvement influenced other factors, which led to greater overall acceptance. Although community involvement may seem time-consuming, a more inclusive approach can prevent long-term issues caused by local opposition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLocal Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date28 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jun 2024

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