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Results of the frequency analysis of the rural survey: How do people feel about wind turbines and what has changed significantly in comparison to the survey in 2005?

In the following abstract, the results of the survey in Havelland-Fläming and Lausitz-Spreewald are presented in further detail. On the one hand, it presents the results of each question of the 2016 survey in in Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming. On the other hand, it juxtaposes the results from 2005 with today’s, thereby revealing potential changes and developments.

Generally, the total number of returned questionnaires was 166. However, whenever the questions in the respective questions were identical, also the results of the survey in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück were included in the description of the results. Therefore, in those cases the number of responses is 187. It yet has to be noted that an individual comparison between the results of Uebigau-Wahrenbrück and Havelland-Fläming is statistically not evaluable due to the small sample size in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück. However, a rough comparison may help to gain a first and not representative overall impression of the attitude in this municipality.

Following the structure of the questionnaire, the results can be divided in two main sections. The first section is on the general attitude and perception of the residents towards wind energy (question no. 1 to 7). Thus, the included sub-categories cover the

  • personal way of getting information, including the importance of certain media
  • attitude towards different energy resources
  • different opinions about wind energy in general and specific aspects of it

The second section looks at the attitude and perception of the residents when it comes to local planning processes (question no. 8 to 24). These sub-categories include:

  • the attitude towards the local wind energy deployment
  • the corresponding perception and awareness of local developments
  • the willingness to pay for electricity
  • the socio-demographic information

Hereinafter, the questions are individually described, including the open questions (question no. 6.19, 11.8, 14 & 15.2) which are described within the qualitative analysis below (cf. the questionnaire of the survey in Havelland-Fläming (Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming), questionnaire of the survey in Lausitz-Spreewald (Uebigau-Wahrenbrück)). The locally specific results are only highlighted if they differ significantly. Furthermore, the crucial differences in the results of 2016 and 2005 are highlighted. The compilation of all results from the survey in 2005 related to the current ones can be found in the annex.

Summary & Conclusion

Within the overall frequency analysis results, certain main findings might indicate whether the social acceptance is gone with the wind. Looking into the two sections of the survey, divergent tendencies can be seen. On the one hand, regarding the general attitude and perception, a general positive development of the acceptances can be noted compared to the survey of 2005. However, on the other hand, in terms of the specific outcomes at the scale of the local planning processes, the positions of the respondents have partially become more negative.

In general, the age distribution is characterised by people between 51 and 80 years old (67 %), that have mostly already lived in the municipalities since their birth or more than ten years (80 %).

With respect to the first category, the majority (n= 110 of 166) considers renewable energy resources as appropriate and valuable. The increase of positive attitudes in Niederer Fläming is remarkable (by 13 %). Wind energy is generally (n= 119 of 187) regarded as a technical advance, which conserves conventional (fossil) resources and is an alternative to nuclear power. Nevertheless, in terms of the potential impacts of wind energy, wind energy is associated with the destruction of the landscape, noise, shadow flicker and danger for wildlife. Moreover, the majority (n= 118 of 187) perceives energy saving as better than the actual promotion of wind energy. It can be highlighted that Dahme/Mark perceives less positive economic outcomes of wind energy. The results of the general opinion about the use of wind energy show an increase in the general social acceptance over the past ten years (by 11%). Once more, Dahme/Mark has a markedly more negative position towards wind energy.

In contrast, the results concerning the local reveal different positions. The majority does not feel timely (n= 110 of 187) and sufficiently (n= 126 of 187) informed about wind energy projects in their neighbourhood. However, the share of responses that indicate a very negative opinion has decreased, instead leaving a more diverse set of opinions. Another negative trend can be seen concerning the disturbance by wind energy, which has risen by around 8 %. Moreover, most of the people (n= 95 of 187) state that they think the next wind turbines to be 1,000 to 1,600 m away from their homes, but 40% wants them to be more than 3000m away. Also, the majority rejects more than ten wind turbines. According to economic matters, wind energy is mainly (n= 112 of 187) not considered as contributing significantly to the local economic benefits. Additionally, it is striking that the majority (n= 117 of 187) would not pay more for “clean energy”; compared to 2005 the share of these negative answers has decreased though.

All in all, while respondents from Dahme/Mark predominantly answered negatively, especially concerning questions on economic aspects (question no. 6.3, 7, 13, 15, 16.4), Niederer-Fläming shows a positive development of the social acceptance (concerning question no. 5 and 13). Since in the previous survey Uebigau-Wahrenbrück was not included, no trend can be described.

1. General attitude and perception towards renewable energies

In the following, the results of the survey of the year 2016 concerning the general attitude and the perception towards renewable energies and wind energy of the interviewed persons are presented.

1.1. Information processes

It is of high interest for every stakeholder who wants to efficiently address citizens, to know how and to what extent citizens inform themselves about planning processes in their neighbourhood. Moreover, the literature review in the chapter External chapter iv public knowledge, information & participation indicates that the information process has an influence on the acceptance of a project.

Question no. 1 - How do you inform yourself on the subject of energy supply?

The first question (figure 1) asks how people inform themselves about the energy supply, thereby showing which media is crucial as an information source. The results demonstrate that newspapers play with 80 frequent and 53 moderate readers, out of 187, the most important role. This is followed by information derived from television and conversations with acquaintances. The internet is less consulted as an information source and especially technical literature and further education do hardly play a role for the information acquiring.

 Fig. 1: How do you inform yourself on the questions of the future energy supply? (n=187)

Question no. 2 - How much do you know about the generation of the following energy sources?

Question no.2 (figure 2) asks for the general perception of how well people feel informed in terms of energy supply. The outcome shows that over 60 % of the respondents feel “rather a lot” and “sufficiently” informed about coal and solar energy. Concerning wind energy, people feel likewise well informed, whereas they feel “rather little“ and “rather low” informed about natural gas at a 40 % rate, about biomass at a 52 % rate and about nuclear energy at a 46 % rate. Therefore, it can be said that the interviewees feel in general better informed about common renewable energy sources, like wind and solar energy, in contrast to conventional energy sources like natural gas. When distinguishing between the three municipalities, no striking differences in the responses can be found.

Fig. 2: In your opinion how much do you know about the generation of the following energy sources?(n=166)

Question no. 3 - About what kind of energy generation would you like to learn more?

The demand for information on conventional and renewable energy sources differs (figure 3). All in all, the respondents indicated that they would like to receive more information about solar energy at 63 %, wind energy at 37 % and biomass at 27 %. The least people would like to learn more about coal (7 %). The allocation of responses does not differ by comparing the three single municipalities.

Fig. 3: About what kind of energy generation would you like to learn more? (several answers possible) (n=187)

So far, the first three questions focused on how people inform themselves, how well they feel informed and from which topics they would like to learn more. The following section will deal with more subjective questions to learn more about the feelings of the people.

1.2 General attitude towards renewable energies

Inside this sub-category the questions are meant to help identify the overall attitude of the inhabitants towards conventional energy sources and renewable energy sources, as well as their perception and awareness of the energy development.

Question no. 4 - What role shall the following energy sources play for energy production in Germany?

The question no. 4 (figure 4) portraits the position of the inhabitants towards what role certain energy sources should play in the electricity matrix in Germany. The results show that, in general, the majority consider renewable energy sources as more applicable. Among this energy sources, while solar energy is largely regarded as the most appropriate source (>90%), it seems like energy generated by biomass should play a less significant role in the energy production (barely above 50%). The conventional energy sources are not considered as eligible. Especially, energy generation by nuclear power is regarded as the least appropriate (almost 70%).

Fig. 4: According to your opinion what roll shall the following energy sources take for energy production in Germany? (n=187)

In the 2005 survey, people were also asked about the future role of conventional energy sources in the electricity matrix, including, explicitly, hard coal and brown coal. In the 2016 questionnaire, they were merged into the one option “cole”, and hydropower was added as an option as well. Due to these differences in the questionnaire designs from the 2005 and 2016 survey, the results from this question in particular are not entirely comparable. Therefore, the graphs only include the comparable results between the 2005 and 2016 survey.

Nevertheless, renewable energy sources still are, according to the answers, highly important for the future energy production in Germany (figure 5). For example 91% of the participants in 2005 thought that solar energy could have a high priority for energy production. In 2016 it was still 84%.

Fig. 5: Comparison of the questions 4 to the results of the 2005 survey (question no. 6)

To check the validity of the results from question 4, question 5 about the value of renewable energy sources was included:

Question no. 5 - How much do you value renewable energy sources such as biomass, solar power or wind energy?

figure 6 represents the overall attitude towards renewable energy sources. Considering both municipalities together, more than 60% show a positive attitude, meaning they highly value renewables. Around 20% show themselves as “neutral” and less than 10% consider renewables as “little” valuable. It is slightly noteworthy that in Dahme/Mark a higher percentage describe themselves as “neutral” in comparison to Niederer Fläming (see figure 6 ).

Fig. 6: In general how much do you value renewable energy sources such as biomass, solar power or wind energy? (n=166)

The results mentioned above pose a difference to those from the 2005 survey (question no. 4). As shown in figure 7, a higher percentage considers renewables as valuable or even highly valuable in the 2016 survey. However, in 2005 already the majority of the respondents shared a positive attitude towards these energy sources. It is noteworthy that back then the most common answer was “neutral”, while currently it is “rather a lot”. Although more people in 2016 consider renewables as “rather little” valuable; the rate of the answer “little” was in 2005 six times higher than now. Regarding the compared local specific results, it is slightly noticeable that in Niederer Fläming the positive attitude (“rather a lot” and “a lot”) has increased by 13 %.

Fig. 7: Comparison of the questions 5 to the results of the 2005 survey (question no. 4)

Up until now, it seems undeniable that residents from the rural areas think of renewable energy sources as highly important. In the next step, questions start to focus more on “wind energy” since this is the central piece of the project.

Question no. 6 - With which statements regarding wind power do you agree or not agree?

The question 6 asks for an agreement or disagreement on 18 statements regarding wind energy. These statements represent rather positive perspectives towards wind energy (no. 6.1 – 6.9 see figure 8) as well as rather negative ones (no. 6.10 - 6.18). The following two graphs show the percentage of the respondents who agreed with a specific statement.

In total, the most agreed positive statements are: “The use of wind energy reduces pollution and slows down climate change” (question no. 6.2), “Wind turbines are a technical advance” (question no. 6.5), “Wind energy conserves non-renewable (fossil) resources” (question no. 6.7) and “Wind energy is an alternative to nuclear power” (question no. 6.8).

Fig. 8: To which statements related to wind energy do you agree or disagree? (n=187)

On the other hand, the most agreed negative statements (figure 9) are: “Wind turbines destroy the landscape” (6.10), “Wind turbines produce noise” (question no. 6.11), “Wind turbines generate shadow flicker” (question no. 6.13), “Wind turbines are a danger for wildlife (birds, bats)” (question no. 6.14) and “Energy saving is better than the promotion of wind turbines” (question no. 6.18).

Fig. 9: To which statements related to wind energy do you agree or disagree? (n=187)

Slightly remarkable differences in the local specific results occur with the statement that “wind energy promotes the economy and creates jobs” (question no. 6.3) and that “the use of wind energy is economically viable and profitable” (6.4). While in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück and Niederer Fläming the majority agrees on these statements, in Dahme/Mark the results show that 2/3 disagree on them (see figure 10).

Fig. 10: Do you agree or disagree with the statement - Wind energy promotes the economy and creates jobs. (top) - The use of wind energy is economically viable and profitable (below) (n=187)

Furthermore, there is a local difference according to the statement that “wind energy is an alternative to nuclear power” (question no. 6.8). Compared to Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming, a higher percentage of respondents from Uebigau-Wahrenbrück do not support this statement (see figure 11). Since only 21 answers from Uebigau-Wahrenbrück can be taken into account, the significance of this statement is debatable.

Fig. 11: Do you agree or disagree with the statement - Wind energy is an alternative to nuclear power. (n=187)

The respodents of Dahme/Mark agree the most with statements on the impacts like shading and flickering of wind turbines (question no. 6.13) and the statements “wind turbines are a danger for wildlife” (question no. 6.14) and “Wind turbines endanger through ice throw” (question no. 6.15). With the last statement (no 6.15) the majority in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück disagrees; again the significance is questionable (see figure 12).

Fig. 12: Do you agree or disagree with the statement - Wind turbines generate shadow flicker (alternation between light and shadow). (top) - Wind turbines are a danger for wildlife (middle). - Wind turbines endanger through ice throw (below). (n=187)

In addition to the statements from question 6, there are statements created specifically for Uebigau-Wahrenbrück (see figure 13) based on the difference in the location (e.g. former coal mining region). The results generally show that people in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück agree the most on the statement that “wind turbines bring only a few people economic benefits” (question no. 12.10) and that “the long-term effects of wind turbines on human health are uncertain” (question no. 12.11). These attitudes are consistent with the position that people agree on the following statements that “energy production by brown coal mining is economically viable” (question no. 4.13) and that this type of energy production creates jobs (question no. 4.12). Nevertheless, the majority also agrees on one contradictory statement: “brown coal mining destroys the landscape” (question no. 4.10).

Fig. 13: Do you agree or disagree with the statement (n=21)

Within the first open question (question no. 6.19), the people were asked for additional statement(s) on wind power that they supported. In total, around one fifth of all respondents gave their own statement to this question. The most frequent statements are related to the factors of “degradation of the environment by installation”. In addition, “energy security” and “energy prices” are also frequently expressed. Moreover, a considerable share of comments refers to “distributive justice” in terms of “benefits sharing” and “direct benefits”. The given comments are almost entirely negatively connotated. The statements range from “Wind energy promotes corruption” to even strongly emotional ones “I personally experienced how a flock of big birds (Herons) alive, bleeding heavily, got up with tattered wings and tried to fly despite partially demolished wings. That's torture! And ruthlessness against our roommates of our planet”. Notwithstanding, there are a few neutral comments and one striking statement, which shows a positive attitude: “I rather watch 100 wind turbines than 1 nuclear power plant”.

The following question 7 is important for a further analysis of the attitude towards wind energy in the rural areas:

Question no. 7 - Are you generally for or against the use of wind energy?

As shown in figure 14 the question no. 7 enquires about the general position in terms of the use of wind energy. In total, around 40 % are “rather” or totally “in favour” of wind energy, which outweighs the proportion that is “rather” or totally “against” it. A share of nearly 20 % of the respondents is neutral. In Dahme/Mark, twice as many people are totally against wind energy as in Niederer Fläming, while the highest share of people that are totally in favour live in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück. Additionally, there are no neutral answers in Uebigau-Wahrenbrück.

Fig. 14: Are you generally for or against the use of wind energy? (n=187)

By comparing these results with the results of the survey of 2005 (figure 15), it is becoming clear that a similar difference is shown as previously described regarding the general attitude towards renewable energy resources. Nevertheless, the results of the general attitude in terms of wind energy have significantly changed. An increase of 11 % of positive answers is visible (see figure 15). In 2005, more than 40 % answered negatively, while currently these attitudes decreased by 8 %. The results of this question are consistent with the tendency in question no. 5, where positive attitudes to renewable energy sources in general could be shown.

Fig. 15: Comparison of the questions 7 to the results of the 2005-survey (question no. 5)

The importance of renewable energies and especially of wind energy was enquired in question no. 4 to 7. For this project, it was of interest if people still support wind energy projects, although they might be affected directly by it impacts (like noise, aesthetics). According to the literature review, identified factors that were summarised in the hypotheses for the assessment in point of fact influence the answers to question no 7 (e.g. like the level of participation and the perception of certain impacts of wind turbines). Those factors are investigated in the following section.

2. Specific attitude and perception at the scale of local planning processes

This chapter will care about the development of wind energy in the immediate surroundings of the respondents. Firstly, respondents were asked how well they feel informed about wind energy projects in their neighbourhood. Secondly, questions refer to reactions on the realisation of wind energy sites.

2.1. Information processes

One goal of the project was to learn more about the participation process. As information is one part of this process the following questions will refer to different aspects of “good” information. In this information process stakeholders use different communication channels. The importance of a channel depends on its perceptibility, which was queried in question no. 8:

Question no. 8 - Where did you hear about the wind energy projects in your neighbourhood?

When local information processes are analysed in further detail (see figure 16), it is striking that people mostly heard from local wind energy projects by the press (in total at 58 %). Likewise the municipality (in total at 45 %) and the neighbours (in total at 39 %) play an important role in the information process. What is also striking is that in Dahme/Mark the neighbours more often inform people about local planning processes at 45 % in comparison to Niederer Fläming (30 %). The same trend is visible concerning the authority as an information source: While in Niederer-Fläming 32 % people feel that they receive information by the authority, 53 % of the interviewees do so in Dahme/Mark.

Fig. 16: Where did you hear about the wind energy projects in your neighbourhood? (several answers possible) (n=166)

Another indicator for a successful participation is a provision of information at an early stage of the process:

Question no. 9 - When did you hear about the wind energy projects in your neighbourhood?

The findings point out that the residents do not feel informed in a timely manner (figure 17). According to this, the majority answered at 37 % that they receive information about the local wind projects “only when everything was already decided”. Additionally, a great number feels informed “too late” at 21 %; hence, in total the interviewees make clear that the local information process is unsatisfying over 50 % of the response rate. Nevertheless, there are also residents that feel informed “just in time” at (15 %). Especially Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming show similar answers, as people feel informed “early” at 19 % and 21 %.

Fig. 17: According to your opinion when did you hear about the wind energy projects in your neighbourhood?

Question no. 10 - To what extent were you informed about the wind energy projects in your neighbourhood?

Concerning the results of this question (see figure 18), it is noticeable that most of the interviewed people feel “too little” and “not at all” informed at 67 %. In contrast, people only feel “good informed” at 2,7 %. The results only differ slightly in the municipalities Dahme/Mark and Niederer Fläming: people feel sufficient informed at 21 % in Niederer Fläming, while in Dahme/Mark responses represent this attitude at 31 %. Nevertheless, it has to be noted that the overall response rate in Dahme/Mark is doubled compared to the response rate in Niederer Fläming.

Fig. 18: According to your opinion when did you hear about the wind energy projects in your neighbourhood?

In question no. 8 to 10 the most important actors in the participation process, as well as the perceived time and level of information were worked out:

2.2. Attitudes towards local wind energy projects

The motivation for respondents to answer this questionnaire was most likely the opportunity to express their attitude, which they could do in the coming chapter. Many of the following questions were also asked in 2005 and a comparison could lead to findings, which can identify a change of mind.

Question no. 11 - How did you react when you learned that in your neighbourhood wind turbines are planned?

Given answers to question no. 11 (see figure 19) compromise options ranging from the desire to participate in the planning process as well as to indifference.

The most respondents do not mind a few turbines, but do not want a large wind farm (question no. 11.4), especially in Dahme/Mark. Another predominant reaction compromises the feeling of uncertainty and that depends on the location of the turbines (question no. 11.3). The third most common response is that respondents clearly speak out against any turbines (question no. 11.5). Nevertheless, only 20 respondents in total indicate that they tried to stop the project (question no. 11.5). A positive reaction such as “I wanted to go along immediately“(question no. 11.1) or “I welcomed it“ (question no. 11.2) remains limited, and only six respondents do not care at all about wind energy and its planning processes (question no. 11.7).

Fig. 19: How did you react when you learned that in your neighbourhood wind turbines are planned? (several answers possible) (n=163)

In figure 20 the results of the survey in 2016 and 2005 are compared. Although the amount of wind turbines increased in the past ten years, it is becoming clear that there is still the same tendency in the rate of answer. The most significant change is recognisable concerning the statement „I do not mind a few turbines, but I do not want a large wind farm“. On this statement more than 50 % of the respondents agreed in 2016.

Fig. 20: Comparision 2016 question no. 11 with 2005 (question no. 13)

The second open question (question no. 11.8) asks for the reaction of the people when they learned about planned wind turbines in their neighbourhood. Less than 10% of the respondents express additional reactions that had not been amongst the ones suggested by the questionnaire. However, many of the answers express rather an attitude than an actual reaction. According to the factors of the synopsis, it is slightly striking that the most frequent reaction is related to the “location”, especially in terms of the distance to the next wind turbines, and the “degradation of the environment”. Nonetheless, a considerable share of the reactions refers to “distributive justice” regarding direct benefits, “perceived procedural fairness” as well as the “number of installed wind turbines”. The overall connotation of the expressed reaction is negative. Therefore, a relatively common comment is as the following: “It’s a shame when forests are deforested for wind turbines”. But also regarding economic terms “I was upset that no wind turbine was built on my private land”. The most ambitious reaction is expressed by a person that initiated a “petition, letter to Office Administration [and a] letter to the Bundestag”.

Question no. 11 and the results focus on wind energy projects that have been realised. The next step pictures an assumption: “what if…?”. For every stakeholder it is important to know under what conditions the people would support wind energy projects.

Question no. 12 - Under what conditions would you consider the use of wind energy as meaningful in your neighbourhood?

Question no. 12 (see figure 21) addresses a hypothetical acceptance. The three most common conditions are related to economic terms: “If it would bring financial benefits for the individuals” (question no. 12.4), “if more money was coming into the municipal treasury by the wind turbines” (question no. 12.5) and “if jobs would be created in the region by the use of wind energy” (question no. 12.6). However, respondents in Dahme/Mark would rather consider wind energy as meaningful if it would be labelled as environmentally friendly (question 12.3) and if it would be an alternative to nuclear power as well as to fossil fuels (question no. 12.2). For the latter, Niederer Fläming would also “rather accept” wind energy, while the environment-friendly performance is less meaningful for them. In total, 20 respondents would find wind energy as an energy resource useful under no certain circumstances and conditions; 12 from Dahme/Mark and 8 from Niederer Fläming.

Fig. 21: Under what conditions would you consider the use of wind energy as meaningful in your neighbourhood (several answers are possible) (n=187)

In contrast to 2005, it is noticeable that most respondents would support wind energy in their region if it would generate jobs, while in 2016 issues of common interest become more important (figure 22). Comparing every single statement of 2005 with 2016, a small variation (lower than 10 %) is visible, except from the statement concerning the generation of jobs by wind energy projects.

Fig. 22: Comparision 2016 question no. 12 with 2005 (question no. 14)

Following, the people could express additional conditions (open question no. 12.8) under which they would consider the use of wind energy as meaningful in the neighbourhood. It is noticeable that the most mentioned conditions refer to “energy prices”. According to this, the following is a typical comment: “If my power bill would be cheaper”. Additionally, common conditions are related to “energy security” like: “If the wind energy could be usefully stored longer and not just be blown into the air”. Another considerable share of the respondents would consider wind energy as meaningful if the respective wind turbines were located not so close, not in the forest and not so numerously. Consequently, they refer to the factors “location”, “degradation of the environment by installation” and “number of installed wind turbines”. A catchy comment relating to the latter is: “If the number of wind turbines would not reduce my quality of life […]”. By listing an additional condition, the respondents express that the previous suggested ones remain insufficient. Thus, the comments show overall a rather negative tendency. However, there is also a considerable share of comments that is expressed in a neutral way, such as: “If there is a meaningful local concept for alternative energy supply in this region”.

Not directly connected to the last question, but also important information about the attitude gives question no. 13:

Question no. 13 - How would you evaluate the sentiment toward wind turbines in your neighbourhood?

Question no. 13 (figure 23) represents the perception of the general sentiment toward wind turbines. In total, 60 % of the respondents would value the overall sentiment in the villages as rather mixed, 30 % feel a negative overall attitude towards wind energy facilities. The highest share of respondents that considers the sentiment as negative is from Dahme/Mark.

The perceived attitude from 2005 varies from the results of 2016. Although most respondents also considered the sentiment as mixed, nearly more than 10 % respond that the general mood is negative. Astonishingly, more answers were positive and indifferent, however the total amount was high, too. In terms of the respective municipalities, it is remarkable that in Niederer Fläming the negative share from 2005 (63 %) has decreased by nearly 40 % and changed rather to the attitude “mixed”. The results of Dahme/Mark show the contrary development as there are now 10 % more negative perceptions based on less “mixed” perception as well as “positive” perceptions.

Fig. 23: Comparision 2016 question no. 11 (How would you evaluate the mood on wind turbines in your neighbourhood?) with 2005

Question no. 14 - Who is supporting the wind turbines projects in your municipality?

To avoid suggestion, this was an open question. The results are analysed qualitatively in the last section of this chapter.

Coming back to the direct perception of the respondents, several questions about effects of wind turbines are following these theoretical questions of “what if..?”.

Question no. 15 - Do you feel disturbed by the wind turbines?

Question No. 15 refers to the perceived disturbance of the respondents. As shown in figure 24, in total nearly 60 % feel disturbed by wind turbines and around 30 % do not feel disturbed. A small share does not know (see figure 24). Most respondents, who agree on this question are from Dahme/Mark and pose there a share of nearly 70 %. In Niederer Fläming and Uebigau-Wahrenbrück, the amount of the respondents who agree or disagree is almost equal.

Fig. 24: Do you feel disturbed by the wind turbines?

By comparing the responses of the current survey of the year 2016 to the survey that was conducted in the year 2005 (see figure 25), it is becoming obvious that during a 10-years period respondents nowadays feel slightly more disturbed by wind turbines. Hence, it is noticeable that the overall attitude towards wind turbines has not changed, beacause in both surveys more respondents feel disturbed by wind turbines than people that respond to the contrary.

While in the year 2005 there was a difference of 8 % of respondents, who feel more disturbed than respondents that do not feel disturbed by wind turbines, in the year 2016 the percentage of people responding: “they feel disturbed” increased by 16 %. However, it has to be noted that by comparing both surveys the total sample number in 2005 was more than twice as big as 2016. Against this background, the overall attitude towards wind turbines has only slightly changed to the negative in a 10-years period.

 Fig. 25: Comparison of the results of questions 15 (survey 2016) to the question 17 (survey of 2005)

The open question about the disturbance by wind turbines (question no. 15.2) has the highest response rate with 50% of all respondents having commented on it. Nearly half of them feel disturbed by wind turbines regarding the produced noise. It is striking that most of the people are affected by the noise when there is east wind. Therefore, comments are likely to be as: “Noise! When there is east wind, then sleeping is only possible with closed windows” as well as “We had to change our bedroom because of the harassment by lighting in the night and the optics“, which also refers to visibility especially by night. Moreover, the landscape scenery is highly important to most people, thus they feel disturbed by wind turbines as “the landscape is disfigured”. As also shown with the previous questions no. 11.8 and 12.8, the factor “location” and “number of wind turbines” is important. Therefore, comments resemble: “Too many wind turbines are in the vicinity. The wind turbines could also be more evenly distributed over Germany”. In addition, a considerable share relates the disturbance to the “degradation of the environment” and the “design of individual wind turbines”, especially regarding the turbines' height. Furthermore, some comments explicitly refer to “bird fatalities”. The overall attitude in this open question is negative as the respondents add comments to the source of disturbance. It becomes visible that one comment often addressed many different factors at the same time. Accordingly, the attitudes become even more negative and lead to comments such as: “Anxiety, when driving under the rotor blades with bike or car”. Since the disturbance physically refers to the wind turbines, it is not surprising that no comments can be related to economic terms.

Question no. 16 - Where and how much do you consciously notice the wind turbines?

There are big differences concerning the perception of wind turbine effects when it comes to different places of everyday life (figure 26). In total, most respondents strongly notice wind turbines outside of the town during walking activities (question no. 16.4). This result is mainly influenced by the great amount of people who respond from Dahme/Mark. “In the town, from the streets” poses also an environment where respondents notice wind turbines (question no. 16.3). However, the share of people who notice wind turbines “strongly” and “medially” is almost equal. Around 30 % do not or slightly notice wind turbines. Approximately 28 % and less than 20 % notice “strongly“ and “medially” wind turbines “from the garden” or “the terrace” (question 16.2). From the inside of the house (question no. 16.1), respondents mainly “do not” or “slightly” notice locally installed wind turbines.

Fig. 26: Where and how much do you consciously notice the wind turbines? (n=187)

Question no. 17 - How far is the distance from your house to the next wind turbine?

Hereinafter, respondents were asked to estimate the distance from their houses to the nearest wind turbine (figure 27). In Dahme/Mark, most respondents think that the nearest wind turbines are 1,000 m or 1,600 m away from their home (60 of 100). 14 respondents believe that they are located within 800 m, while 18 think the nearest wind turbines are 3,000 m or more meters away (n=100). In Niederer Fläming the results are similar, however less respondents believe them to be only 1,000 m or 1,600 m from their home (26 of 66). In Uebigau-Wahrenbrück, respondents perceive wind turbines as either close at 1,000 m (10 of 21) or far away at more than 3,000 m (6 of 21).

If people feel disturbed by wind turbines, like previous results show, it is likely that they do not want them in the direct neighbourhood. But is this conclusion right?

Question no. 18 - How far shall wind turbines be at least away from homes?

Related to the previous question, the question no. 18 asks about the attitude on how far wind turbines shall be installed in greater distances from housings. According to the questionnaire, in each municipality the respondents mostly want wind turbines to be located more than 3,000 m away from their homes, followed by a distance of approx. 3,000 m. Around 20 % of all respondents could live with wind turbines, which are approx. 1,600 m away and almost 10 % of respondents would accept wind turbines installed in a distance of 1,000 m or less.

Fig. 27: Question no. 17. According to your estimate how far is the distance from your house to the next wind turbine?; Question no. 18. According to your opinion how far at least shall wind turbines be away from homes? (n=187)

In figure 28 one can see the change in perception of the distance to the houses of the respondents. The graph shows a similar trend, but as in 2005 the distance of 1,000 m was no option in the questionnaire, the comparison of this question cannot be compared without bias.

Fig. 28: Comparision 2016 question no. 17 (According to your estimate how far is the distance from your house to the next wind turbine?) with 2005 (question no. 23)

The “1,000 m-bias” of figure 28 is repeated in figure 29, but in this case it is less significant as only 7 % of the respondents in 2016 think a distance of 1,000 m between wind turbine and their house is sufficient. Remarkable in the graph is that the majority (62 % in 2005 and 40 % 2016) of the respondents think that wind turbines should be located more than 3,000 m from their home. The difference of 22 % between the years might appear due to a possible habituation to the wind turbines, but which could not be proved by the results at hand. Further discussion on this topic can be found in the section Discussion and in the comparison of results in the section (Q13/Q18/Q17) Distance to residential areas.

Fig. 29: Comparision 2016 question no. 18 (According to your opinion how far at least shall wind turbines be away from homes?) with 2005 (question no. 19)

At this point a critical note is necessary, as most respondents might have thought: “the further away, the better”, but this issue will be discussed in limitations. A similar bias might appear in question no. 19:

Question no. 19 - How many wind turbines are acceptable in the surroundings of your place of residence?

The number of wind turbines close to settlements often plays an important role for accepting the local wind energy development. In figure 30 it is striking that 71 % of the respondents only tolerate a small number of 1 to 10 wind turbines in their neighbourhood. More than 30 wind turbines are mostly rejected, only 5,8 % would support a local wind energy development in this amount. In order to gain comparable results in Niederer Fläming and Dahme/Mark the questionnaire provided no “0” option in Havelland-Fläming, however three respondents chose this option verbally. It is likely, that many answers in the section “1 to 4” would have been “0”, therefore these results should be examined critically.

Fig. 30: How many wind turbines are acceptable in the surroundings of your place of residence? (n=187)

In figure 31 again the trend is almost similar in 2005 and 2016. In both cases most respondents accept 1 to 10 wind turbines in their neighbourhood and around 22 % in both years answered „11 to 15“, „16 to 20“, „21 to 30“ or „more than 30“.

Fig. 31: Comparision 2016 question no. 19 with 2005 (question no. 20)

This chapter about the attitude about local wind turbines provides results on theoretical questions (no. 11 to 14) as well as general and specific statements on perceived disturbance by wind turbines, estimations and wishes for the distance between housing and wind turbines and attitudes on the density of wind parks so far. But still, some questions are necessary to get a database, which allows proving or disproving the stated hypotheses. Relevant for the hypotheses on economic benefits from wind turbines is question no 20:

Question no. 20 - Please estimate how much profit a town/municipality receives from wind turbines per year?

When it comes to the question whether there are economic benefits of wind turbines for the municipality (figure 32), most of the respondents think that local wind turbines can generate a few thousand Euro of income for the municipality (44 %) and only a few think that it is about several hundred Euro (28 %). Therefore, it is becoming clear that overall respondents do not believe that there are (local) economic benefits due to the installation of wind turbines. As there was in total a response rate of nearly 20 % that did not answer this question at all, it is striking that many respondents feel not informed about the economic benefits of wind turbines.

Fig. 32: Please estimate how much profit a town/municipality receives from wind turbines per year?(n=166)

Question no. 21 - Are you prepared to pay a higher electricity price for clean energy ?

The question about the willingness to pay for clean energy (figure 33) significantly shows that in total 71 % dislike to pay more for “clean” energy. Only 12 % of the respondents would agree to pay higher electricity prices for clean energy.

Fig. 33: Are you prepared to pay a higher electricity price for clean energy?

By comparing the survey of the year 2005 to the year 2016 (see figure 34), it is becoming obvious that the overall attitude “not to pay for higher electricity prices” when the electricity is generated by clean energy has not changed in a 10-years period. In both surveys, more than 60 % dismiss higher energy prices due to renewable energy resources. Still, it has to be noted that in 2016 the overall negative attitude slightly declined by 9 % due to the fact that in 2016 a few more respondents would accept higher energy prices at the same time as more respondents feel undecided whether they are willing to pay a higher price for clean energy. Therefore, a small trend to accept economic changes due to the energy transition is noticeable.

 Fig. 34: Comparison of the results of the 2005-survey to the 2016-survey (Are you prepared to pay a higher electricity price for clean energy?)

To learn more about the knowledge of the respondents about wind turbines, question no. 22 was placed in the questionnaire. It provides results for the hypothesis concerning the relation between “acceptance” and “knowledge”.

Question no. 22 - How high is the possible contribution of wind energy to the total electricity supply in Germany?

The future amount of electricity generated by wind turbines in the electricity supply is estimated slightly different (see figure 35). While all three municipalities respond almost to the same rate that the contribution will be around 21 to 30 %, especially respondents in Dahme/Mark consider the possible share for 10 to 20 %. In total, only 4,9 % of the respondents believe that the energy supply by wind energy will be between 51 and 60 %.

Fig. 35: According to your estimate how high is the possible contribution of wind energy to total electricity supple in Germany? (n=166)

The differences in the estimation of total electricity supply by wind energy can be seen in figure 36. Whereas most respondents thought at 43 % that up to 10 % of the electricity supply by wind energy should be integrated in the electricity mix in Germany in 2005, in 2016 at 28 % most respondents thought 21 - 31 % of the generated electricity should be covered by wind energy.

Fig. 36: Comparision 2016 question no. 22 with 2005 (question no. 21)

This extensive part is highly relevant for the discussion part, as it provides data to support contradictory discussed topics on the acceptance of wind energy. For the respondents only a few questions on socio-demographic attributes are left:

2.3. Socio-demographic attributes

Data from this part gives an idea about if the picture drawn by this project represents a realistic mixture of citizens.

Question no. 23 - How old are you?

The age distribution of the respondents in Havelland-Fläming and Uebigau-Wahrenbrück (figure 37) is in general characterised by people at the age of 51 to 80 years (67 %), while there are responses in the survey of people being 51 to 60 years old at 31 %. Only 3 % of the participants are 20 to 30 years old. The age distribution differs slightly in the municipalities. While in Niederer Fläming the distribution of the ages groups of 41 to 50, 51 to 60 and 61 to 70 years old is always approx. 15%, in Dahme/Mark the population is mainly characterised by people between 51 and 60 years old.

Fig. 37: How old are you? (n=187)

Compared to 2005, the respondents in 2016 were older (see figure 38). In 2005 the majority came from the group of 41 - 50 years old people, in 2016 this changed to 51 - 60 years.

Fig. 38: Comparision 2016 question no. 23 with 2005 (How old are you?)

Question no. 24 - For how many years have you been living at your current place of residence?

In general, it is becoming obvious that most (80 %) of the interviewed people live in the municipalities since their birth or more than ten years (see figure 39).

Fig. 39: Since how many years have you been living at your current place of residence? (n=187)

Qualitative analysis of the open questions in the survey of 2016

The questionnaire contains certain open questions that do not suggest possible answers, which were designed to elicit personal opinions without influencing possible responses by giving prefixed answers to choose from. Additionally at the very end of some question, respondents had the opportunity to add own statements, so that the respondents can contribute through their own comments. This analysis emphasizes those that relate to the attitude and perception of the people.

Thus, when respondents express personal thoughts, an emotional impression of the social acceptance is indicated. The open questions are framed to encourage the explanation mainly with a sentence or some keywords. The analysed comments are categorised by relating them with the factors of the synopsis, to verify the findings of the literature review. Due to the predominantly negative connotation, neutral or even positive trends are only mentioned where appropriate. According to each open question, the most catching are additionally highlighted.

All in all, the responses to the open questions show a great diversity. Although, the predominant connotation is negative, also neutral and even positive attitudes are expressed. These results are partially consistent with the findings of the synopsis. The comments mainly correspond to the “socio-economic” factors. The literature review has identified that they mostly refer to the influence of direct benefits for the local communities. Nevertheless, especially the comments in the first and third open questions (No. 6.19, 12.8) focus rather on energy security and energy prices. Thus, those factors would contribute to the social acceptance of a considerable share of the respondents. However, regarding the reactions (no. 11.8) about wind energy projects in the neighbourhood, they are more consistent to the synopsis since they want to be financially involved. It is striking that there is a high accordance in the “perceived impacts”, especially regarding the degradation of the environment and visibility. The literature mentions this as the second most frequently cited factor, which corresponds to the fact that it is expressed by a high share of the comments.

In terms of the factors of the synopsis, in fact, the results of the qualitative analysis differ since they are almost not related to “procedural fairness”. These factors are merely expressed in total by four respondents. Additionally, it is astonishing that the most mentioned factor identified in the synopsis “taking stakeholders’ consultation seriously” is not explicitly expressed in the open questions. Instead of the “scale of participation”, the respondents consider the number of installed wind turbines as crucial. Consequently, the perception of the people is more influenced by the physical and technical characteristics of wind energy that interact with their everyday life.

On balance, the overall impression is that rather the discontented people tend to express additional statements or comments. This is shown especially by the questions No. 11.8 and 15.2. In the quantitative analysis the most frequent answer to question “How did you react when you learned that in your neighbourhood wind turbines are planned?” (No.11), is “I didn't mind a few turbines”, expressing a rather neutral attitude. In contrast to that, the statements in the open question (No.11.8) show a predominantly negative reaction. The results of the open question significantly differ within question No.15.2. It is not surprising that the discontented people added an additional statement, since the question asks if they feel disturbed by the wind turbines and for which reason. As a consequence, the drawn attitude of these results does not completely correspond to the results of the frequency analysis.

research/rural_areas/common_results/results1.txt · Last modified: 2017/03/10 00:22 by r.rodriguescamargo