5.1 and under were significantly more accepting of renewable

5.1 Introduction

This
dissertation aimed to address whether socio-demographic factors played an
important role in the social acceptance of renewable energy, and to assess them
against the existing place based factors of research into the topic. It was
hoped this may suggest methods to increase the social acceptance of renewable
energy infrastructure, helping nations combat climate change via building more
of said infrastructure. This chapter reviews the analysis of data collected via
the questionnaire regarding Javelin Park, providing explicit answers to its
research questions, before outlining prescriptive implications for research and
the wider field, potential topics warranting future research, and finally
limitations of this dissertation. All conclusions below are drawn from and
supported by primary statistical evidence, and secondary supporting qualitative
data.

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5.2 Research question
conclusions

1)
To what extent does an individuals’ age impact their social acceptance of
renewable energy infrastructure.

Those
aged 40 and under were significantly more accepting of renewable energy
infrastructure, and Javelin Park, compared to over 40’s. Age was also found to impact
perceptions of procedural justice, as over 40’s believed procedural justice was
significantly lower within the project. Research findings supported former
research from Lowell et al (2003) and Krosnick and Alwin (1989). It can be
concluded therefore that age significantly impacts the social acceptance of
renewable energy infrastructure.

2)
To what extent does an individuals’ annual income impact their social
acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure?

Those
earning £30,000 and under were significantly more accepting of renewable energy
infrastructure, and of Javelin Park, compared to higher earners. Income was
also found to impact perceptions of distributive justice, as higher earners
believed procedural justice was significantly lower within the project.
Research findings supported former research from Branas-Garza et al (2010) and
Grubbs et al (2014). It can be concluded therefore that annual income
significantly impacts the social acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure.

 

3)
To what extent does an individuals’ education level impact their social
acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure?

The
higher education group were significantly more accepting of wider renewable
energy infrastructure, when compared to the lower education group. However, the
lower group were significantly more accepting of Javelin Park. Research
findings supported former research from Stevenson et al (2014) and Gang et al
(2013). It can be concluded therefore that education level significantly
impacts the social acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure.

4)
To what extent are socio-demographic factors (age, annual income, education
level), of comparable importance to place based factors in relation to impacts
upon the social acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure?

Research
found that socio-demographic factors had a more significant impact than place
based factors upon the social acceptance of Javelin Park, when place attachment
(strongest place based factor) was analysed against age (strongest
socio-demographic factor). All place based factors analysed were however, found
to have statistically significant relationships to the social acceptance of
Javelin Park, but not as significant as age. Concluding therefore that
socio-demographic factors had a more statistically significant impact upon the
social acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure than place based factors.

5.3 Prescriptive
research implications

The
above findings have various prescriptive implications for research into the
social acceptance of renewable energy. One resulting proposal is that
socio-demographic factors should become a larger focus of such research, being
utilised alongside the place based factors of existing research producing more
informed understandings of the factors influencing social acceptance. Such
research will hopefully provide more informed conclusions regarding root causes
of opposition to renewable energy, facilitating the formulation of effective
strategies to increase the social acceptance of renewable energy
infrastructure. This may help to slow climate change through facilitation of a
post carbon energy transition. Such strategies may include siting projects
within areas containing demographics exhibiting less opposition to renewable
energy infrastructure, or through altering socio-demographics like education
level, through potentially providing greater education within schools regarding
the necessity of renewable energy. Finally, this research strongly implicates
that a wider array of renewable energy infrastructure types should be the focus
of research, the existing ‘infatuation’ with wind power fails to produce
findings which are necessarily generalisable to all forms of renewable power.

 

 

5.4 Dissertation limitations

This
dissertation, although effective in answering its research questions is not
without limitations. One limitation is the small sample (n=150), producing
difficulties in obtaining responses from a socially representative sample of
individuals within Gloucestershire, being heavily imbalanced regarding
respondent gender. These issues of social representativeness, combined with the
small size of the sample may produce issues generalising results more widely.
It therefore may be overly simplistic to state that socio-demographic factors
are more impactful than place based factors upon the social acceptance of all
renewable energy infrastructure. The case-studies narrow focus may also produce
issues generalising findings more widely, for example to wind power as the
effect of socio-demographic factors may vary dependent upon infrastructure
type. Finally, the data collected by this dissertation was not compatible with
regression analysis, the typical statistics for a study of this nature. The
substitute non-parametric statistical tests, although valid and robust, will
have produced findings with less empirical validity and reliability than their
parametric counterparts.

5.5 Future research

This
dissertation highlights numerous future research areas. One is the utilisation
of qualitative methods to more thoroughly investigate socio-demographic
factors, potentially facilitating greater in-depth understandings of how such
factors impact attitude formation, or allowing detailed investigation of how
socio-demographic concerns relate to the issues of place. Research into the
impact of socio-demographic factors upon the social acceptance of other types
of renewable energy infrastructure, like solar and wind, is another potential
avenue for future research, allowing more generalised, less infrastructure type
specific findings to be reached, potentially via using a multiple case
methodology. Finally, research into other socio-demographic factors may be
beneficial in reaching more complete understandings of the root causes of opposition
to renewables, with factors such as ethnic background being indicated in the
research of Fuligni et al (1990) to impact attitudes and decision making,
making a potentially effective starting point. 

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