Public Responses to Airborne Wind Energy: A Literature Review

Published in:
, TU Delft , Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Published on:
January 17th, 2022

Airborne wind energy (AWE) systems use tethered flying devices to harvest higher-altitude winds to produce electricity. For a successful deployment of these systems, it is crucial to understand how the public perceives them. If public concerns about the technology are not taken seriously, implementation could be delayed or, in some cases, prevented, resulting in increased costs for project developers and a lower contribution of the sector to renewable energy targets. This literature review assessed the current state of knowledge on public responses to AWE. An exhaustive literature search led to the identification of 40 relevant publications that were reviewed. The literature assumed that the safety, visibility, acoustic emissions, ecological impacts, and the siting of AWE systems shape public responses to the technology. The reviewed literature views people’s responses to AWE very optimistically but lacks scientific evidence to back up its claims. It seems to overlook that the influence of AWE’s characteristics (e.g., visibility) on public responses will also depend on a range of situational and psychological factors (e.g., people’s general attitude towards AWE, the public’s trust in project developers). Therefore, empirical social scientific research is needed to increase the field’s understanding of public responses to AWE and thereby facilitate deployment.

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