Public participation in decision making on sustainable energy transitions


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Engaging the public in decision making is increasingly advocated as a strategy to enhance public acceptability of renewable energy projects that are implemented to combat climate change. A key question is when and how public participation can lead to higher project acceptability, and whether similar processes play a role in different countries. This thesis aims to address this knowledge gap. Results suggest that decision-making processes are perceived as fairer when people can participate in decision making, which in turn leads to higher project acceptability. Furthermore, project acceptability was higher when people could influence major (e.g., location of wind parks) rather than only minor decisions (e.g., colour of wind turbines). Yet, public participation is not a silver bullet to increase acceptability of the decision-making process and resulting project, as full influence (e.g., citizen control) did not result in higher acceptability of the decision-making process and resulting project compared to shared influence, even when people could consult experts. Moreover, higher trust in the agent responsible for the project enhanced project acceptability, particularly when people trust the responsible agent has integrity compared to that trust the agent has competence. Importantly, either public participation or trust can enhance project acceptability, as both increase the likelihood that people’s interests and concerns are taken into account. Similar results were found in the Netherlands and China, suggesting public participation and trust may have similar effects on project acceptability in different countries.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Steg, Linda, Supervisor
  • Perlaviciute, Goda, Co-supervisor
  • Bouman, Thijs, Co-supervisor
Datum van toekenning24-jan-2022
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
StatusPublished - 2022

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