Thirty years of North American wind energy acceptance research: What have we learned?

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published





Thirty years of North American research on public acceptance of wind power projects has produced important insights, yet knowledge gaps remain. This review synthesizes the literature, revealing the following lessons learned. (1) North American support for wind power has been consistently high. (2) The NIMBY (not in my backyard) explanation for resistance to wind power development is invalid. (3) Socioeconomic impacts of wind power development are strongly tied to acceptance. (4) Sound and visual impacts of wind power projects are strongly tied to annoyance and opposition, and ignoring these concerns can exacerbate conflict. (5) Environmental concerns matter, though less than other factors, and these concerns can both help and hinder wind power development. (6) Issues of fairness, participation, and trust during the development process influence acceptance. (7) Distance from turbines affects other explanatory variables, but alone its influence is unclear. (8) Viewing opposition as something to be overcome prevents meaningful understanding and implementation of best practices. (9) Implementation of research findings into practice has been limited. The paper also identifies areas for future research on wind power project acceptance. With continued research efforts and a commitment toward implementing research findings into developer and policymaker practice, conflict and perceived injustices around proposed and existing wind power projects might be significantly lessened.


Energy Research & Social Science



Year of Publication



July 2017


This is a pre-print of an article published in Energy Research and Social Science

The journal article version of this report is available at the following link:
This project is part of a broader set of projects under the National Survey of Attitudes of Wind Power Project Neighbors which are summarized here


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