All’s fair in love and WAR: The conduct of Wind Acceptance Research (WAR) in the United States and Canada

Energy Research & Social Science, Vol. 88, June 2022

Co-authored with Jessie Crawford MSc., MSU CSUS

The number of studies examining social acceptance of wind energy in the United States and Canada has increased considerably since the 1980s. Here we conduct a methodological review of wind acceptance research (WAR) literature in response to four articles published in this journal. These include a recent synthesis of WAR by Rand and Hoen in 2017 recommending better incorporation of results into development practices and comparability of case studies; a 2020 investigation by Walsh and colleagues into potential research fatigue in unconventional oil and gas development research, and finally calls by Sovacool and others in 2014 and 2018 to increase the theoretical depth and reflection in energy social science. Using a systematic review of 114 WAR articles and an online survey of 41 corresponding authors, we investigate the location of WAR study sites, the success of different WAR designs and incentives, the disciplines and theories dominating WAR, and finally dissemination practices. Our results show that, outside national surveys, WAR is geographically concentrated in regions distant from the highest installed capacity and focus on projects that are novel, controversial, or unique to a specific region. We find little support for research fatigue. Additionally, most WAR lacks an underlying theory. We conclude by recommending greater qualitative analysis of study site selection criteria and greater integration of existing WAR theories and WAR with solar acceptance research. Finally, we urge scholars to ensure and communicate a clear purpose, value and financial benefit to WAR participants and meaningfully consider the broader community contexts examined.

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