Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Study: Americans Are Happy to Let Wind Turbines Be Their Neighbors

Energy
Study: Americans Are Happy to Let Wind Turbines Be Their Neighbors
PxHere

Americans like wind turbines as neighbors, at least when compared with the alternatives.


That's the conclusion of a University of Delaware (UD) study published in Nature Energy Monday. UD Prof. Jeremy Firestone and undergraduate Hannah Kirk looked at data from a survey of people who lived within eight kilometers (approximately five miles) of a wind turbine. They found that around 90 percent of them preferred the wind turbine over an alternative plant located at a similar distance, whether it was fueled by coal, natural gas or uranium.

Firestone said the study offered a more realistic gauge of American's energy preferences.

"We've looked at social acceptance of wind projects examining factors such as effect of landscape change, sound and place attachment. In those studies, the ultimate question is whether a community member supports or opposes a local project — that is, wind power or nothing," he explained in a UD press release. "But that's not the societal choice, which is instead, among wind power, solar, coal or natural gas. Even when residents might have less than positive attitudes toward a local project, the majority appear to conclude that their local wind power project is better than the alternatives."

Here are some of the key findings, reported by the press release and additional comments by Firestone in Behavioral and Social Sciences at Nature:

  1. Of the two-thirds who had a preference between living near a wind turbine or a commercial solar installation, three to one preferred wind.
  2. The preference for wind held across states despite economic or geographic differences. For example, 86 percent of people in coal-mining states preferred to live near a wind turbine, while only around eight percent would have preferred to live near a coal plant.
  3. The preference also held whether the state was considered 'Red' (voted Republican for president in 2012 and 2016), 'Purple' (switched between the two years) or 'Blue' (voted Democrat both years.)

"[P]references for wind power are bipartisan," Kirk said in the press release.

The data set Kirk and Firestone used for their research was collected and made public by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Firestone, who also helped compile the original data, explained in Nature how it was done:

First, we subdivided the population. For example, the 8 km distance was broken into four groups to ensure that sufficient individuals were included who lived very nearby a wind turbine given their potential greater ability to hear operating wind turbines and to be affected by changes to the landscape. Second, we used three modes to contact individuals to take the survey: telephone, online, and on paper. To account for the complexity and to address the fact that not everyone contacted responds, the sample was weighted to match it to the population based on gender, age and education.

Firestone said that the wide support for wind projects by those who lived near them, even in coal states, was a positive sign for how the public might react to a shift away from fossil fuels.

"This suggests the energy transition that is underway in the United States may be embraced widely," he said in the press release.

A replica of a titanosaur. AIZAR RALDES / AFP via Getty Images

New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Trump's Affordable Clean Energy rule eliminated a provision mandating that utilities move away from coal. VisionsofAmerica /Joe Sohm / Getty Images

A federal court on Tuesday struck down the Trump administration's rollback of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A wild mink in Utah was the first wild animal in the U.S. found with COVID-19. Peter Trimming via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.

Read More Show Less
A mass methane release could begin an irreversible path to full land-ice melt. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

By Peter Giger

The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.

Read More Show Less
Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By John R. Platt

The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.

Read More Show Less