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Comparison of overall results

(Q2/Q24/Q23) For how long have you lived at your current residence?

The vast majority of respondents from rural areas have lived for more than 10 years (48%) or even forever (44%) at their current place of residence. Only 8% resided for less than 10 years at their residence. In Potsdam only 39% of respondents have lived for more than 10 years at their current place of residence. The majority (61%) lived for less than 10 years at their residence (cf. Figure 1). Fig. 1: Percentage of respondents living for "less than 1 year", "1 to 5 years", "6 to 10 years", "more than 10 years" or "since birth" at their current residence.

Discussion

Especially in the rural areas a large number of respondents live for more than ten years at their current residence. Hence the factor “place attachment” is likely to be of importance when it comes to the acceptance of wind energy. People living in a place for a long time form positive emotional links to the environment they live in. Changes in the environment they feel attached to are able to disturb these links and consequently are likely to create public opposition (Cass & Walker 2009). Accordingly the installation of wind farms is often reported to interfere with the emotional bonds people have created over time (“place attachment”) and therefore affect the acceptance of wind farms negatively (e.g. Devine-Wright 2009, Strazzera et al. 2012). Taking into consideration the results from our research and the literature findings it is to argue that people living in rural areas have inter alia a lower acceptance of wind energy because they feel more attached to the place they live in as they have lived there for a long time (> than 10 years). Whereas people living in Potsdam (urban area) show a higher acceptance of wind energy as they have lived on average for a shorter period of time at their current residence and therefore feel less attached to the place they live in. However, a study from South Africa by Lombard & Ferreira in 2013 could not find empirical evidence for the factor “place attachment” to lower the level of acceptance.


  • Cass, N., Walker, G. 2009, 'Emotion and rationality: the characterization and evaluation of opposition to renewable energy projects', Emotion, Space and Society 2, pp. 62–69.
  • Devine-Wright, P. 2009, 'Rethinking NIMBYism: the role of place attachment and place identity in explaining place-protective action', J. Community. Appl. Soc.Psychol. 19, pp. 426–441.
  • Lombard, A. & Ferreira, S. 2013, 'Residents' attitudes to proposed wind farms in the West Coast region of South Africa: A social perspective from the South', Energy Policy 66, pp. 390–399.
  • Strazzera, E., Mura, M., Contu, D. 2012,’ Combining choice experiments with psychometric scales to assess the social acceptability of wind energy projects: A latent class approach’,Energy Policy, vol. 48, pp. 334–347.

(Q3.7/Q2.6) How well do you feel informed about wind energy?

Both samples (urban and rural) show a similar perceived level of information on wind energy. Approximately half of the respondents in urban as well as in rural areas feel “rather good” informed about wind energy (cf. Figure 2). Fig. 2: Percentage of respondents feeling either "very good", "rather good", "rather bad" or "bad" informed about the energy production from wind energy.

(Q5/Q5) Opinion on renewable energies in general

Respondents from Potsdam show a higher frequency of being “in favour” of renewable energies than in rural areas: While in Potsdam 54% of the respondents are “in favour” of renewables, in the rural areas only 33% of the respondents share this opinion. 7% of the respondents from rural areas are “rather against” renewables, while this is true for only 1% of the respondents in Potsdam (cf. Figure 3). Fig. 3: Percentage of respondents being "in favour", "rather in favour", "neutral", "rather against" or "against" renewable energies.

Discussion

This question is related to the overall assumption that people in urban areas have a higher acceptance of wind energy than people living in rural areas. Although this question asked about renewable energies in general, wind energy is indirectly related to that and could play a big role for respondents in rural areas when answering with “rather against” or “against” (compare to Question five in Havelland-questionnaire). The attitude towards renewable energies or wind energy in particular could be influenced by many factors, such as the spacial relation, the age of the respondents or the level of information (see Assessment of case study hypothesis).

The assumption that people in urban areas have a higher acceptance towards renewable energies because of fewer contact points to for instance wind turbines was also made by Khorsand et al (2015). Here it is mentioned that city dwellers do not have to deal with negative impacts of Renewables and therefore tend to have a higher acceptance (Khorsand et al., 2015). Furthermore there are more factors that influence the acceptance of renewable energies that are beyond the scope of our survey and the questions asked. Despite the belief that age, level of information and the spatial context influences the level of acceptance towards Renewables, also the type of renewable energy and the scale of the project might influence the acceptance (Bergmann et al. 2007). The recent on-going debate and rejection of wind turbines in the rural areas of Brandenburg could be linked to the lower level of acceptance of renewable energies in general (“Die Volksinitiative”, 2016).

The higher distance of Potsdam’s citizens could also be linked to the assumption that they know less about negative effects of wind turbines. In the matrix questions, a big number of respondents from Potsdam answered 'I don't know' to questions concerning the negative effects (e.g. (Q7d/Q6.11/Q12.2) 'Wind turbines produce noise?' or (Q7g/Q6.15/Q12.6) 'Wind turbines endanger due to ice falling from the blades?'). Here it is to mention that the questionnaire of the rural areas did not provide an 'I don't know' answer but an opportunity to give no answer. Nevertheless it must be interpreted with caution because the question was not directly related to wind energy. As already mentioned, there might also be more factors – such as the age of respondents – than the urban-rural comparison influencing the attitude towards renewable energy in this question.


  • Bergmann, A, Colombo, S., Hanley, N, 2007, Rural versus urban preferences for renewable energy developments. ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS XX (2007). ECOLEC-02930.
  • “Die Volksinitiative”, 2016, 'VolksInitiative – Rettet Brandenburg', Märkische Heide, Online at: http://www.vi-rettet-brandenburg.de/
  • Khorsand, I, Kormos, C, MacDonald, E, Crawford, C, 2015, Wind energy in the city: An interurban comparison of social acceptance of wind energy projects, Energy Research & Social Science 8 (2015) 66–77.

(Comparable) Matrix questions

(Q7a/Q6.8/Q4.8) Wind energy as an alternative to nuclear energy?

The majority of respondents from Potsdam (78%; n=98) as well as from rural areas (67%; n=125) agree upon the statement “Wind energy is an alternative to nuclear energy”, while 14% (n=17) respondents from urban area and 27% (n=50) from rural areas disagree upon it (cf. Figure 4). Fig. 4: Do you agree/disagree upon statement: Wind energy is an alternative to nuclear energy.

(Q7b/Q6.1/Q4.1) Wind energy - the future of the next generations?

While the statement “Wind energy use is the future of the next generations” is true for 62% (n=78) of respondents from Potsdam, it is true for 50% (n=93) from respondents of rural areas. Respondents from rural areas rather disagree with the statement (44%; n=83) than respondents from urban areas (22%; n=27) (cf. Figure 5). Fig. 5: Do you agree/disagree upon statement: Wind energy use is the future of the next generations.

(Q7c/Q6.3/Q4.3) Wind energy creates jobs, strengthens economy?

While more than half of respondents from rural areas do not believe that wind energy strengthens the economy and creates jobs (51%; n=95), 42% (n=78) agree to that statement. Respondents from Potsdam tend to agree upon that statement more often (44%; n=55) and fewer respondents disagree upon it (38%; n=47) in contrast to respondents from rural areas (cf. Figure 6). Fig. 6: Do you agree/disagree upon statement: Wind energy strengthens the economy and creates jobs.

(Q7d/Q6.11/Q12.2) Wind turbines produce noise?

The majority respondents from both samples agree upon the statement “Wind turbines produce noise pollution”. Respondents from rural areas (70%; n=131) tend to agree more often than from urban areas (54%; n=67). 24% (n=45) of respondents from rural areas do not agree with the statement, while from urban areas only 18% (n=22) disagree with it (cf. Figure 7). Fig. 7: Do you agree/disagree upon statement: Wind turbines produce noise pollution.

(Q7e/Q6.5/Q4.5) Wind energy is a technical progress?

The vast majority of respondents from the urban region agree with the statement “Wind turbines are a technical progress” (78%; n=97). Only 12% (n=15) disagree with it, while in rural areas 30% (n=56) of respondents do so and 64% (n=119) of them agree with the statement (cf. Figure 8). Fig. 8: Do you agree/disagree upon statement: Wind turbines are a technical progress.

(Q7f/Q6.18/Q12.9) Saving energy is better than promoting wind energy ?

The majority of respondents from, both urban (46%; n=58) and rural areas (63%; n=118) agree with the statement „Saving energy is better then promoting wind energy“ and about the same amount, in each case a quarter of respondents from urban as well as from rural areas, disagree with the statement (cf. Figure 9). Fig. 9: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Saving energy is better then promoting wind energy.

(Q7g/Q6.15/Q12.6) Wind turbines endanger due to ice falling from the blades?

The majority of respondents from the urban region (58%; n=72) chose the option “I do not know” when being asked about whether wind turbines endanger through ice falling from the blades. Whereas almost the same percentage (60%; n=112) of respondents from rural areas agree to that. 26% (n=33) of respondents from the urban region and 32% (n=59) from rural areas disagree with the statement (cf. Figure 10). Fig. 10: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind turbines endanger through ice falling from the blades.

(Q7h/Q6.9/Q4.9) Wind turbines are a possibility for capital investment?

Almost half of respondents from rural areas (49%; n=92) do not think that wind turbines serve as a capital investment and in the urban region 28% (n=35) of respondents do so. 39% (n=73) of respondents from rural areas do agree with the statement as well as 44% (n=55) of respondents from the urban region (cf. Figure 11). Fig. 11: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind turbines are a capital investment.

(Q7i/Q6.12/Q12.3) Wind turbines are reflecting the sun?

46% (n=86) of respondents form rural areas agree that wind turbines are reflecting the sun. Almost the same percentage (44%; n=82) disagree with the statement, while in the urban region 50% (n=62) of the respondents disagree with it. 44% (n= 55) of respondents from Potsdam chose the option “I do not know” when being asked about whether wind turbines reflect the sun (cf. Figure 12). Fig. 12: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind turbines reflect the sun.

(Q7j/Q6.2/Q4.2) The use of wind energy slows down climate change?

The majority of respondents from both, rural (63%; n=118) and urban areas (74%; n=93) agree that wind energy use reduces environmental pollution and slows down climate change. Only 8% (n=10) of respondents from Potsdam disagree with the statement, while in rural areas 28% (n=52) of respondents do so (cf. Figure 13). Fig. 13: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind energy use reduces environmental pollution and slows down climate change.

(Q7.k/Q6.7/Q4.7) Wind energy conserves the fossil energy sources?

90% (n=112) respondents from Potsdam and 74% (n=139) of respondents from rural areas agree with statement “Wind energy conserves the fossil energy sources”. 17% (n=31) of respondents from rural areas disagree with it, while in the urban region 4% (n=3) do so (cf. Figure 14). Fig. 14: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind energy conserves the fossil energy sources.

(Q7l/Q6.14/Q12.5) Wind turbines endanger the wildlife?

In both study areas (rural and urban) most of the respondents agree to the fact that wind turbines endanger the wild life (rural 75% and urban 61% of the respondents). 21% (n=26) of the respondents in Potsdam disagree to that and 18% (n=23) do not know. In rural areas 20% (n=37) of the respondents do not think that wind turbines are a danger to wild life (cf. Figure 15). Fig. 15: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind turbines are endangering wildlife.

(Q7m/Q6.10/Q12.1) Wind turbines destroy the landscape?

Most of the respondents from rural areas (74%, n=139) think wind turbines are destroying the landscape. In Potsdam 48% (n=60) of the citizens agree and 42% disagree to that. While in rural areas only 17% (n=33) do not think wind turbines are destroying the landscape (cf. Figure 16). Fig. 16: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind turbines destroy the landscape.

(Q7n/Q6.13/Q12.4) Wind turbines produce a flickering shade?

68% (n=127) of the respondents from rural areas agree to the fact that wind turbines produce a flickering shade. In Potsdam only 36% (n=45) of the respondents agree to that. About the same number of respondents from Potsdam (n=46) do not know whether wind turbines produce a flickering shade. 25% (n=47) of the respondents from rural areas and 27% (n=34) of the respondents from Potsdam disagree with the fact (cf. Figure 17). Fig. 17: Do you agree/disagree upon statement:Wind turbines produce a flickering shade.

Summary

Looking at the comparable matrix questions as a whole it is obvious, that respondents from the urban Potsdam think more positive about wind energy than respondents from the rural regions. For instance, respondents from Potsdam on the one hand disagree in smaller number with negative effects of wind turbines (such as production of noise, shade or sun reflection) than respondents from rural areas but on the other hand agree with advantages of wind energy (such as capital investment, slowing down climate change, or job creation) in larger amount than respondents from rural areas. This is in line with the findings regarding the 1st hypothesis “People in urban areas have a greater acceptance towards wind turbines than people in rural areas.“, which could be confirmed (cf. chapter). Another aspect is the level of information for example about positive and negative effects of wind turbines. The charts might lead to the assumption that respondents from Potsdam are worse informed about wind energy than respondents from urban regions. However, this assumption is wrong as only the Potsdam questionnaires contain the option to response “I do not know”, while the questionnaires from the rural regions do not. Thus, they are not comparable concerning the level of information. At least not by using the charts from the matrix questions. As you can see in Figure 2 respondents from urban and rural regions show a similar level of information on wind energy.

(Q13/Q18/Q17) Distance to residential areas

While the majority of the respondents from rural areas (43%) wish the distance between wind turbines and residential areas to be more than 3.000 meter most of the respondents from Potsdam (38%) accept a distance of 3.000 meter. About one third (27%) of the respondents from rural areas agree to a distance of 3.000 meter and approximately one fifth (21%) agrees to a distance of 1.600 meter. 8% agree with the 1000 meter distance and 2% would accept a 800 meter distance. In Potsdam 4% of the respondents agree to the 800 meter distance, 17% to the 1.000 distance and about a forth wish the distance to be at least 1.600 meter (cf. Figure 18). Fig. 18: Percentage of respondents agreeing to "800", "1.000", "1.600", "3.000" or "more than 3.000 meter" distance of wind turbines and residential areas.

Discussion

Before interpreting the resulting data from this question (How far should wind turbines be away from residential areas?, Q13/Q18/Q17), it is to say that this has to be done with caution. When asking this question it is likely that respondents answered without thinking about realistic limits for minimum distances still allowing to achieve the aims of the energy transition (cf. http://www.bmwi.de/DE/Themen/Energie/Energiewende/gesamtstrategie.html). In other words they could have answered “more than 3.000 meters” just because they wish the wind turbines to be away as far as possible without knowing that it is necessary to keep the distance as minimal as possible in order to find areas suitable for wind turbines.

The distance of wind turbines to residential areas is an often mentioned factor in the literature when it comes to the acceptance of wind energy (cf. Synopsis). This is quite obvious as the distance to a wind turbine determines the level of perceptibility of its negative effects such as noise or shade flicker (Huesca-Pérez et al., 2016). However, there is no clear evidence that the acceptance of wind energy increases with increasing distance to wind turbines (e.g. Hübner & Pohl 2015, Westerberg et al. 2015). Still it is interesting to mention, that there is a public initiative (cf. http://waldkleeblatt.de/) being active within the rural region of the study. The initiative inter alia aims to enforce a minimum distance of wind turbines to residential areas of ten times the height of the turbines (so called H-10-regulation). The attempt to achieve this aim by means of a referendum recently failed (Klix 2016). Looking at the numbers of signatures collected in the referendum it is to say that the participation from the affected municipalities (rural areas) has been higher than in the cities (PNN 08.07.2016, p.14). This corresponds with the data analyzed here, showing that respondents from rural areas are agreeing to larger distances (> 1.600 meter) between wind turbines and residential areas in greater amount than respondents from Potsdam (cf. Figure 18). Only 8% of respondents from rural areas agree with the 1000 meter distance, which is the recommended norm by the responsible ministries in Brandenburg (MIL & MLUL 2009). In Potsdam the double number of respondents (17%) agree to that.


  • Huesca-Pérez, M.E., Sheinbaum-Pardo, C., Köppel, J., 2016, Social implications of siting wind energy in a disadvantaged region - The case of Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico. In: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 58 (2016): 952-965.
  • Hübner, G. & Pohl, J. 2015, 'Mehr Abstand – mehr Akzeptanz? Ein umweltpsychologischer Studienvergleich'[Brochure], Fachagentur für Windenergie an Land, Berlin, pp. 22-23.
  • Klix, H. 2016, 'Volksbegehren gegen Windkraft in Brandenburg, Der Rückenwind fehlte', Retrieved August 4, 2016 from http://www.pnn.de/pm/1092944/
  • Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Planning (MIL) & Ministry of Rural Planning, Environment and Consumer Protection (MLUL) 2009, 'Windkrafterlass', retrieved August 2, 2016 from http://gl.berlin-brandenburg.de/imperia/md/content/bb-gl/regionalplanung/windkrafterlass2009.pdf
  • Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten (PNN) 2016, 'Gerber geht auf Windkraftgegner zu. Wirtschaftsminister plädiert für verträgliche Lösungen beim Abstand von Windparks zu Siedlungen - im Einzelfall', July 8,p. 14.
  • Westerberg, V., Jacobsen, J. B., Lifran, R., 2015: Offshore wind farms in Southern Europe - Determining tourist preference and social acceptance. In: Energy Research & Social science 10 (2015): 165 - 179.

(Q14/Q13/Q20) Age of respondents

On average the respondents from Potsdam are younger (median = age class “31 to 40”) than the respondents from the rural areas (median = age class “51 to 60”). While in Potsdam the majority of the respondents (35%) are in the age class of 20 to 30 years, the majority of the respondents within the rural areas (29%) are in the age class of 51 to 60 years. In the sample of rural areas the age class “under 20” does not exist at all while in the sample of Potsdam 7% of the respondents are under 20 years old (cf. Figure 19). Fig. 19: Percentage of respondents within a certain age class comparing urban and rural areas

Discussion

The age groups of both urban and rural areas are contradictory. While the majority of respondents from urban areas are between 20 and 40 years, most of the respondents from rural areas are between 51 and 70 years old. This age tendency is approximately similar to the average age of both areas. In Potsdam the average age in 2011 was 42 years and the main age group is between 27 and 50 years (Statistischer Informationsdienst, 2012). Figure 20 displays the age distribution in Potsdam in 2011 and shows a big proportion in the age groups of 20 to 35 years and 40 to 55 years.

Whereas current prognoses state a out-migration and shrinkage of the younger generation in the region of Havelland-Fläming (Regionale Planungsgemeinschaft, 2006). Figure 21 presents the development of age groups in the region from 1990 to 2020. Here it is obvious that especially the amount of younger generation tend to shrink while the amount of the more seasoned generation becomes bigger. As the age samples of the questionnaire relect the average age of people in both Potsdam and the rural area, the link to acceptance can be drawn (3rd hypothesis:Assessment of case study hypothesis).
Fig. 20: Age distribution in Potsdam in 2011. Fig. 21: Age distribution development in Havelland-Fläming from 1990 to 2020.


  • Regionale Planungsgemeinschaft, 2006:“Region Havelland-Fläming”, Landesamt für Bauen und Verkehr, Brandenburg Regional 2006
  • Statistischer Informationsdienst, 2012: “Bevölkerungsprognose der Landeshauptstadt Potsdam 2011 bis 2030”, 4/2012, Bereich Statistik und Wahlen, Potsdam
research/comparison/compare_results.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/02 16:52 by admin