Public Support for Renewable Energy: The Case of Wind Power

Sven Heim (Ecole des Mines - Paris)

March 22, 2021, 11:00–12:15


Environment Economics Seminar


Public support is crucial for the energy system’s transition towards renewable energy (RE). This paper examines how spatial proximity to wind turbines (WTs) affects public support for RE using two measures – local preferences for RE electricity tariffs based on more than 35 million search queries on price comparison websites, and local election outcomes for the Green party in Germany. Endogeneity in WT diffusion is addressed by exploiting a peculiarity in the local remuneration scheme for wind feed-in in Germany in an instrumental variable approach. Our results suggest a significant decrease in preferences for RE electricity tariffs by around 43 percent for each new WT in a zip code and a decrease in votes for the Green party by about 18 percent for each new WT in a municipality. However, the effect diminishes rapidly with the distance to WTs. This finding is consistent with a substantial “not in my backyard” effect and suggests that even strong and active proponents of the energy system’s transition reduce their support when a WT is installed nearby. Finally, our results suggest that financial compensation may mediate the negative effects on public support for RE. (with Robert Germeshausen and Ulrich Wagner)