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research:urban_area

Urban area: Potsdam

Perception of city dwellers on wind energy is often completely different to that of rural residents as they contact wind power facilities less frequently (Khorsand et al. 2015). In order to perform a rural-urban comparison, and thus to further explore the attitude towards wind energy, participants of the master project conducted interviews in an urban area other than the rural municipalities of Dahme/Mark, Niederer Fläming, and Uebigau-Wahrenbrück. The city of Potsdam, capital of the federal state of Brandenburg, seemed to be an ideal location to gain information on the acceptance of wind energy within an urban context due to several reasons.

Potsdam often refers to itself as the “city of science”. Out of its approximately 160,000 citizens, around 10,000 are employed in scientific institutions. Furthermore, almost 25,000 students are enrolled at its higher education institutions, including the University of Potsdam, the University of Applied Science, the College for Sport and Management, the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, and the Hoffbauer Vocational Academy (Landeshauptstadt Potsdam, 2016a). As already introduced in our literature review, socio-demographic aspects, e.g. age, and the level of education can significantly influence attitude towards wind energy. The high number of scientists and students made Potsdam an especially exciting case study area for our project.

Beside its distinct socio-demographic background, Potsdam offers several historic parks, with traditional castle complexes, and numerous recreational sites within its administrative borders. Such sites include the world-famous Sanssouci Park, the Freundschaftsinsel, and the Volkspark, for example. Furthermore, Potsdam has various water bodies which account for almost 10 percent of its area. Forests can be found in all parts of the city. Almost 50 percent of Potsdam’s urban area is environmentally protected by law (Landeshauptstadt Potsdam, 2016b). Due to the wide range of recreational opportunities within the city, dwellers of Potsdam are assumed to spend less time in the close proximity of the city. Consequently they encounter wind turbines less than a city dweller generally does.

Sanssouci Park (Photo: R. Camargo) Fig. 1: Sanssouci Park (Photo: R. Camargo)

The applied questionnaire was used to assess certain characteristics of social acceptance of wind energy in an urban domain before making a comparison between Potsdam and the aforementioned rural case study areas. For the urban domain - based on the literature review conducted earlier as well as some supplementary readings - six hypotheses were formulated. In case of most of the hypotheses created pro and contra literature could be indentified. The explanation of formulating certain hypotheses is limited here just to the supporting arguements. Some contrary results are also introduced later in the discussion chapter. The developed hypotheses are as follows:

  • Acceptance of wind energy is higher among young people. Some authors argue that there is a connection between age and social acceptance of wind energy (see e.g. Devine-Wright 2009; Yuan 2015). To facilitate scientific discussion in the topic, we decided to test the correlation between these factors.
  • Acceptance of wind energy is higher among more educated people. Caporale & Lucia (2015) showed that well educated citizens are more open to new wind energy developments. On this basis, we decided to test whether there is a correlation between the level of education and the attitude towards wind energy.
  • Acceptance of wind energy varies between occupations. Some papers suggest that income level influences environmental attitude (e.g., Arcury, 1990; Scott & Willits, 1994; Tilikidou & Delistavrou, 2001; Tilikiou, 2007). However, based on the past experiences of project participants, it was expected that respondents would be uncomfortable sharing their income during interviews. Occupation was therefore used instead to test whether it influences respondents' attitude towards wind energy.
  • Acceptance of wind energy is related to gender. Devine-Wright (2009), Yuan (2015), and Bidwell (2013) argue that gender is another important factor of shaping one's attitude toward wind energy. To test this hypothesis, the correlation between respondent's gender and their attitude towards wind energy was tested.
  • City dwellers do not feel disturbed by wind turbines when spending their leisure time in the surroundings of the city. Aside from socio-demographic factors, urban-rural differences in the attitude towards wind energy is often explained by the differences in the frequency of direct contact with wind turbines (see e.g. Khorsand et al. 2015). On this basis, we assumed that city dwellers do not feel disturbed by wind turbines even when they are spending their leisure time in the surroundings of Potsdam because they get into contact with wind turbines occasionally. Furthermore, we decided to test whether the more time respondents spend out of the city, the more they feel disturbed by wind turbines.
  • Green purchase behaviour is higher in districts with higher rent indices. In general, cities are considered to be the beneficiaries of green energy production. However, as mentioned above, some scientific papers argue that environmental attitude, including green purchase behaviour, is more general among high-income consumers. Consequently, we could assume that city dwellers do not enjoy the benefits of green energy production equally. The applied questionnaire provided opportunity to assess the spatial differences of the intention of using green energy within Potsdam. Based on the assumed correlation between income level and social acceptance of wind energy, we expected neighbourhoods with higher rent indices to be more committed to consume green energy.

References

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  • Bergmann, A., Colombo, S., Hanley, N., 2007, rural versus urban preferences for renewable energy developments. In: Ecological Economics (2008): 616-625.
  • Bidwell, D., 2013, The role of values in public beliefs and attitudes towards commercial wind energy, In: Energy Policy 58: 189–199.
  • Caporale, D., De Lucia, C., 2015, Social acceptance of on-shore wind energy in Apulia Region (Southern Italy). In: Renewable and sustainable energy reviews 52 (2015): 1378-1390.
  • Devine-Wright, P., 2009, Rethinking NIMBYism. The role of place attachment and place identity in explaining place-protective action. In: Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 19 (6): 426–441.
  • Firestone, J., Kempton, W., Krueger, A., 2009, Public Acceptance of Offshore Wind Power Projects in the USA. In: Wind Energy 12: 183 - 202.
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  • Fotolia, 2016. Potsdam, Stadtgliederung, Stadtteile. [online] Available at: https://de.fotolia.com/id/45378551. Last accessed: 30th May, 2016
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  • Landeshauptstadt Potsdam, 2016a. Wissenschaft/Bildung. [online] Available at: http://www.potsdam.de/kategorie/wissenschaft-bildung. Last accessed: 20th May, 2016
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