Re-focussing research efforts on the public acceptance of energy infrastructure: A critical review

Jed Cohen, Johannes Reichl, Michael Schmidthaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

203 Citations (Scopus)


One of the key issues in adopting a sustainable and renewable energy system is gaining social acceptance for technological change. Many technological changes can adversely affect residents and lead to opposition. Extensive development of electricity infrastructure has been met with especially strong resistance from local stakeholders. An abundance of research has been conducted to study the process and driving factors of social acceptance in the context of these infrastructural developments. This paper develops a conceptual definition of social acceptance that is both explicit and allows for quantitative assessment. This definition will aid future literature by clearly defining the goal of social acceptance research from the outset. As examples of the problems faced in electricity system change, factors of discontent surrounding the social acceptance of wind farms, transmission lines, and pump hydro-storage facilities are identified and synthesized. Policy relevant conclusions from previous research are summarized for these three infrastructure types. It is concluded that while research has done well in understanding the causes of opposition, more work is needed to grasp the efficacy and implementation of acceptance improving strategies. Future research should be focused on devising procedures to facilitate quick and efficient negotiations between infrastructure developers and local groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-9
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Energy infrastructure
  • Local opposition
  • Pump hydro-storage
  • Pylons
  • Social acceptance
  • Wind farms


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