Thumbnail Image

The human dimensions of a green–green-dilemma:​ Lessons learned from the wind energy — wildlife conflict in Germany

Straka, Tanja M.; Fritze, Marcus; Voigt, Christian C.

Green–green dilemmas are particularly challenging since they involve two desirable goals, yet with detrimental counter-effects. Although wind energy production is to some desirable as a form of renewable energy for reducing global CO2 emission, it conflicts with conservation goals when airborne animals die during collisions. Yet, protecting species with high collision risk may prevent to some extent the deployment of wind turbines or involve altered operation schemes with lowered energy production, two constraints impairing the development of wind energy production. Stakeholders involved in wind turbine projects discuss this dilemma not only based on their knowledge and interests, but also on their thoughts and emotions about wind turbines or affected animals such as bats. We studied some of these cognitions and emotions of stakeholders involved in the local realization of wind turbine projects (e.g. planning or authorization) to shed light on fundamental aspects of disagreements. We undertook a self-administered online survey (n=537 respondents) with six stakeholder groups from the wind energy and conservation sector to understand i) their value orientations, beliefs and emotions, the predictive potential of ii) value orientations, beliefs, emotions on trust as well as iii) trust among and in stakeholders involved in decision making processes. We observed that beliefs about the importance of wind turbines and emotions towards wind turbines differed across stakeholders while emotions towards bats were generally positive. Overall, stakeholders had low trust in each other. Representatives from the wind energy sector had more trust in politicians compared to conservationists. Trust was most strongly influenced by beliefs about the importance of wind turbines. Beliefs about the importance of wind turbines were in turn most strongly influenced by emotions towards bats and wind turbines. We argue that awareness of different beliefs and emotions among stakeholders should be acknowledged in this apparent conflict to foster trust among stakeholders.
Published in: Energy Reports, 10.1016/j.egyr.2020.06.028, Elsevier