Rodríguez-Segura, F. J. & Frolova, M. (2023). How does society assess the impact of renewable energy in rural inland areas? Comparative analysis between the province of Jaén (Spain) and Somogy county (Hungary). Investigaciones Geográficas, (80), 193-214.
Rodríguez-Segura, F. J. & Frolova, M. (2023). ¿Cómo valora la sociedad el impacto de las energías renovables en áreas rurales de interior? Análisis comparativo entre la provincia de Jaén (España) y el condado de Somogy (Hungría). Investigaciones Geográficas, (80), 193-214
What is known about the subject?
In most cases, energy transitions take place in rural areas, where the energetic crisis tends to be higher in terms of demand and level of supply, besides being areas that offer the necessary resources to move forward towards this transition (large extensions of land, water, a diversity of renewal energy sources, etc.). However, the trend towards large power plants make territorial effects, such as the demand for land or visibility of installations, more significant. Consequently, there are more and more frequent demonstrations of citizen’s rejection among the rural communities of regions such as Andalusia, where the main arguments for social opposition are land occupation, environmental effects or landscape impact. A social stance that could put a brake on the path to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and achieving the EUs target of reducing emissions by 55% for 2030.
What does this study add to the existing literature?
Research on renewable energies shows a thematic priority in efficiency, energy policy, economic evaluation and environmental impact issues over landscape impact analysis. Within the studies that evaluate or analyse the landscape impact, there is a disproportion between technologies, with a clear predominance of studies on wind turbines compared to other technologies such as solar panels or the scarcely considered biomass plants. In the light of this literature gap, this article aims to provide an empirically sustained contribution on the community perceptions of renewable energies in rural inland areas. Surveys conducted evaluate the opinion and level of awareness of the population in relation to the impact of different renewable technologies in various contexts, considering at the same time different factors that may influence perception.
What are the implications of the findings?
Findings of this research underline the importance of providing adequate information about renewable energy projects, their benefits and impacts, so that the population is aware and can generate a clear and consolidated position, as the lack of information can lead to misunderstandings or indifference. The public’s opinion phase can be an essential tool for renewable energy projects. Consulting the population about the suitability of the location, the extension of the land or the benefits for the municipality would minimise citizen rejection movements.
Francisco Javier Rodríguez-Segura
Department of Regional Geographic Analysis and Physical Geography, and Regional Development Institute
University of Granada. Spain