Public Acceptability of renewable energy (B)

B. Wiersma (chair); Kuper-Smith (A. Skatova); S. Ohtomo. Location: A7

Coastal place meanings and offshore renewable energy: Finding acceptable locations in Guernsey

B. Wiersma, P.G. Devine-Wright, & S. O’Neill

Despite generally high levels of support for the principle of renewable energy, finding a socially acceptable location for renewable energy projects has been challenging, as these projects often provoke opposition from local residents (sometimes labelled NIMBYs). Numerous studies have argued that this opposition is often due to perceptions of certain developments as ‘not fitting in’ certain places (e.g. wind farms are ‘industrialising’ natural places). However, very few studies have subsequently asked whether a different place, with different place meanings, values and attachments, or indeed a different technology, would be a more acceptable alternative. To that end, a large-scale representative sample questionnaire survey conducted in Guernsey explored the acceptability of three different locations for hypothetical, future offshore wind and tidal energy farms, with an emphasis on the diverse place meanings associated with each of these proposed locations. Public acceptance of energy developments varied across each location, and associated with the range of values and meanings represented by each place, as well as with varieties of place attachment and local identity. The analysis also identified different clusters of respondents, revealing the different ways in which the question of renewable energy placement is answered by different segments of the population.

When push comes to shove: compensatory and opportunistic strategies in a collective-risk community energy buying dilemma

A. Skatova, B. Kuper-Smith, & B. Bedwell

Cooperation around environmental resources is vital. For example, to achieve an 80% reduction of carbon emissions target by 2050, UK energy users are expected to consume less energy. One of the policy initiatives to support achieving this target for the households is community energy buying “as buying in larger volumes usually means better deals” (gov.uk). However, the households involved in the scheme might face a scenario alike standard social dilemma, and this is not accounted for in the policy documents. If one of the households in the community, despite the agreement, uses unreasonably high amounts of energy, will the rest of the community compensate for them by using less? Or will they retaliate and use more themselves, causing a rebound effect? The present study used an experimental social dilemma game to investigate how participants respond if others in their group free-ride or use a fair-share instead. Participants (N=118) in the fair condition showed a significant increase in their usage. Those in the unfair condition, instead, decreased their usage to compensate for behaviour of others in the group. Such results show that community energy buying can backlash if people find out that others use less energy than expected, as some might feel they should use pre-agreed amount up. This will go against whole purpose of the arrangement: to save the energy. The results also demonstrate a positive social outcome: when push comes to shove, people are willing to compensate for others in the group, even if it is unfair on them in short-term.

Moderating effect of energy usage habit on behavioural change by eco-friendly priming

S. Ohtomo

Energy usage habit is an important barrier against intentional energy saving behaviours. However, few studies have investigated whether eco-friendly priming can promote energy saving behaviours unconsciously when people possess energy usage habit. This study investigated the moderation effect of habit on behaviour change by eco-friendly priming. In a field experiment, about half of participants were primed with energy saving by an associated image poster (i.e. priming condition), and the others were not primed (i.e. control condition). The study measured behavioural intention, willingness, and habit before the priming manipulation, and subsequent two types of energy saving behaviours (reducing usage of electric appliance and saving electricity) one month after the manipulation. The results showed that reducing usage of electric appliance behaviour was determined by behavioural intention. Saving electricity behaviour was determined by behavioural intention, willingness, and habit. Moreover, habit strength moderated the effect of eco-friendly priming on reducing usage of electric appliance and saving electricity behaviour. Eco-friendly priming promoted energy saving behaviours among participants with weak habit, but not among participants with moderate or strong habit. Thus, people's reactions to eco-friendly stimulus cue were moderated by their habit. The study discussed necessity of tailored intervention depending on the level of habit.