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The Sound of the Silent Majority in Energy Transitions: the Power of Resistance vs. Acceptance

Carlsbergfondets internationaliseringsstipendier


Opinion polls readily document support for renewable energy technologies (RETs), e.g. wind farms. Yet, local RETs are often a source of social and political controversy, and stories of resistance to local RETs repeatedly make the headlines. However, to what extent do these RET-related debates capture the complete package of stakeholder views on the matter? Research suggests that the public debate is biased towards the RET resistance, while the more silent majority support attracts little attention. This research explores the socio-psychological underpinnings, and the power, of the emotions triggered by local RET-related change among stakeholders. It also explores how these emotions inform the public debate related to the large-scale renewable infrastructure planning and deployment.


We know that transitions to renewable energy resources depend on technical as well as social and political factors. This research focuses on the social perspectives of energy transitions. The research will creatively combine and synthesize research insights from particularly the social psychology and energy transitions bodies of knowledge. This transdisciplinary perspective on energy transitions contributes to bridging the knowledge-gap between research on public reactions to local land use change caused by renewable energy technologies, the social psychology of emotions, and public perceptions of climate change issues.


This transdisciplinary social science research enquiry will draw upon mixed qualitative data and quantitative data. This mixed methods research enquiry may comprise some anthropological fieldwork, interviews, survey data and document analysis. The research results will be published in academic journals and in popular media.


Social and political controversy associated with the planning and deployment of large-scale renewable energy infrastructures is a key challenge for the necessary transitions to renewable energy resources. Such controversy may not necessarily go away. However, insights into their socio-psychological underpinnings may facilitate better planning processes for all. The public debate mirrors the power and influence of resistance versus acceptance, of good versus bad. Exploring this phenomenon may explain how and to what extent. It may also reveal how much - or little - we listen to those informed by more relaxed and quiet positive emotions. The research will comply with the international values and standards of good scientific practice as defined by The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.