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In the city of Potsdam a citizen survey on the acceptance of wind energy was conducted using face-to-face interviews. The questionnaire used was derived from a version used by the planning authority Havelland-Fläming in 2005 to conduct a similar survey. The questions were altered to fit the different local background of a city. To provide comparability, five original questions from the previous questionnaire were used and three questions were slightly altered without changing their basic meaning. Three newly developed questions were added to test the additional hypotheses adapted to the urban study area of Potsdam.

The locations for the survey were selected after analyzing where within the city people spend their spare time, or are most likely to be in a waiting position e.g. parks, playgrounds, markets or sport grounds. Surveying in these waiting position(s) would not take extra time from people who would be willing to participate, and thus lighten the downside of losing time while participating. By selecting these locations a higher willingness to take part in the survey and therefore a higher response rate was expected.

Before conducting the final survey a pre-test of different versions of questionnaires was done in order to analyze the respondents’ reactions and to decide upon the final selection of questions. Two versions of questionnaires were tested – a short version with 15 questions and a longer version with 18 questions. The 18 question survey was chosen.

Between the 03.06.2016 and 17.06.2016 the survey was conducted at pre-selected locations in Potsdam. The interviewers split up into groups of two with each group taking different locations at different times during the day. The surveys took place in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings so that different social groups could be reached. By spontaneously picking potential respondents at the chosen locations a random selection of interviewees was made.

Several statistical methods (Chi-squared tests, T-tests, and calculation of correlation coefficients) have been performed in order to test differences withing predefined groups or correlation between predefined factors. The applied statistical methods are always indicated with their corresponding results.

Design of the Questionnaire

In the following paragraphs the choice of certain questions within the questionnaire and related hypotheses are explained in more detail. The section's aim is to shed light on the motives of why certain questions were chosen for the final questionnaire. Click on the question number (e.g. Q1) to jump to the corresponding answers received.

Measuring the level of social acceptance

Question 4.7, 5, and 12 were linked together to determine respondent's attitude towards wind energy. These questions were linked to form the indicator of acceptance, referred to in the followings as the “acceptance indicator”:

  • (Q4.7) “In your opinion, how important should wind energy be for the energy production in Germany?”
  • (Q5) “What do you think in general about renewable energy sources such as biomass, solar energy and wind energy?”
  • (Q12) “Would you accept more wind turbines in the surroundings of Potsdam?”

1st hypothesis: Acceptance of wind energy is higher among young people

The age groups in Potsdam were analyzed to establish if there is a significant difference in the level of acceptance of wind energy between them. To verify our hypothesis, i.e. that there is a higher acceptance among young people, we linked this question to the acceptance indicator. Corresponding question to this hypothesis:

  • (Q14) “How old are you?”

2nd hypothesis: Acceptance of wind energy is higher among more educated people

To test if people in Potsdam have a higher acceptance of wind energy if they are more educated, the highest level of education obtained was asked and linked to the acceptance indicator. Corresponding question for this hypothesis:

  • (Q15) “What is your highest level of graduation?”

This question should indicate the level of education among our respondents. Here, the level of graduation was an indicator for the level of education and therefore suitable for our analysis if people with a higher education have a higher acceptance as well.

3rd hypothesis: Acceptance of wind energy varies between occupations

This question should find out in correlation with the acceptance indicators whether there is a link from the occupation to their acceptance of wind energy. Corresponding question to this hypothesis:

  • (Q16) “What is your current occupation?”

4th hypothesis: Acceptance of wind energy is related to gender

To get an idea on how the level of acceptance differs between men and women, the gender of the respondents was recorded. Our aim was to verify if there is a higher acceptance of wind energy among women (Caporale & Lucia, 2015). Corresponding question to this hypothesis:

  • (Q18) Gender of respondents

5th hypothesis: City dwellers do not feel disturbed by wind turbines when spending their leisure time in the surroundings of the city

Another aim of the survey was to find out if people from Potsdam feel disturbed by wind turbines when spending their leisure time in the surroundings of Potsdam. Therefore questions were designed to establish how many days people spend in the areas outside of Potsdam and if they feel disturbed by wind turbines.

The density of wind turbines in close proximity to Potsdam is relatively low compared to other regions; such as the city of Nauen, for example. The closest wind turbines to the west and to the east are around 10 km from the city border. Therefore, to encounter wind turbines, a resident of Potsdam would need to travel. Since these areas also offer recreation activities such as biking and hiking, people might feel disturbed by wind turbines during these activities. Therefore, the initial deductive hypothesis was: “The more leisure time city dwellers from Potsdam spend in the surroundings of the city, the more they feel disturbed by wind turbines.” Corresponding questions to this hypothesis:

  • (Q10) “How many days per month do you spend leisure time in the surroundings of Potsdam?”
  • (Q11) “Do you feel disturbed by wind turbines when spending leisure time outside in the surroundings of Potsdam?“

As an additional source for information, we kept and revised a question from the rural questionnaire to gain information about people's knowledge of wind turbines in the corresponding area (cf. Figure 1):

  • (Q9) “Do you know about wind turbines in the area around Potsdam? If yes, can you show on a map where they are?”

Fig. 2: The applied map of the surroundings of PotsdamFig. 1: The applied map of the surroundings of Potsdam

6th hypothesis: Green purchase behavior is higher in districts with higher rent indices

Another intention of the survey was to get an overall picture of which criteria people from Potsdam focus on when choosing their energy provider. Here the price and the production from renewable energies was discussed and linked to the different districts in Potsdam (related to the rent index (“Mietspiegel”) of the districts). The correlation between the factors was tested. Corresponding questions to this hypothesis:

  • (Q1) “In which district do you live?”

This question was used to get an overall idea where the respondents live. An analysis was made with a linkage of this question to the rent index in the districts of Potsdam. Furthermore a connection between rent indices and the question Q6.2 - concerning respondents' consideration of consuming renewable energy - was made.

  • (Q6) “When choosing your electricity supplier do you consider 'low price' and/or 'production from Renewables'?”

Question 6 consists of two sub-questions (Q6.1, Q6.2). The first sub-question (Q6.1) focuses on the consideration of price. The second sub-question focuses (Q6.2) on the consideration of renewable energy utilization when respondents choose their energy provider (cf. Figure 2).

Fig. 3: Question 6Fig. 2: Question 6

The second sub-question (Q6.2) was used to explore possible differences in green purchase behavior between the districts of Potsdam. For this purpose, based on respondents' domicile and the rent index, territorial units were formed. A correlation analysis between rent indices of these units and the proportion of positive answers to the second sub-question (Q6.2) established the basis of testing the hypothesis: “Green purchase behavior is higher in districts with higher rent index”.

Some questions were not directly related to the hypotheses introduced above but provided a deeper insight to the attitude towards wind energy in Potsdam:

  • (Q17) “How could cities contribute to the energy transition?”

An open question was included in the questionnaire to reveal the ideas, knowledge, and opinions held by the citizens of Potsdam when it comes to the implementation of the energy transition within cities. This question was meant to be seen as an inductive approach to investigate the respondent's knowledge, perception and opinion about the energy transition.

  • (Q3) “How well do you feel informed about the energy sources?”

This question was developed to indicate how well people feel informed about wind energy.

  • (Q7) Matrix question

These questions were designed to find out what possible factors might influence the acceptance of wind energy (cf. Figure 3). People from Potsdam were expected to know less about the negative effect(s) of wind turbines than the positive effects(s).

Fig. 1: Matrix questionFig. 3: Matrix question

  • (Q2) “Since when do you live at your current place of residence?”
  • (Q8) “How do you estimate the opinion towards wind energy within your social environment (family, friends, colleges)?”
  • (Q13) “In your oppinion, how far should wind turbines be located from residential areas?”


* 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.

research/urban_area/methodology.txt · Last modified: 2017/02/02 16:51 by admin