WDM 6_23 Lecture | The role of community benefits in community acceptance of multifunctional solar farms
14 September 2023 - September 14
14th September 2023
17.30 (CET) | Zoom
The role of community benefits in community acceptance of multifunctional solar farms in the Netherlands
by Kimo VAN DEN BERG, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University
General subject area | Landscape policy and governance, landscape and community, land use planning, productive landscapes, energy landscapes.
Abstract | While solar farm developments contribute to sustainable energy goals, they often have negative impacts on the landscape and face high levels of local opposition. Community benefits are a promising tool to reduce opposition, as they do in wind farm developments. By adding multiple functions to a solar farm (e.g. nature development, recreational elements, food production), benefits for the local community – other than sustainable energy production – can be generated. The added functions contribute to other goals, such as climate change or nature development, and also visually connect better with their surroundings, allowing for a better integration with the landscape. As such, multifunctional solar farms can mitigate the negative impacts on the landscape or even add value to the functioning and appearance of the landscape. However, also examples exist where community benefits have not managed to reduce levels of opposition. Therefore, this research aims to understand the role of community benefits in community acceptance of multifunctional solar farm developments through case studies in the Netherlands. The research consists of two phases: an exploratory phase through desk research mapping multifunctional solar farm developments in the Netherlands and an explanatory phase, analysing why community benefits are implemented and how they affect community acceptance, done through interviews. The results show that a key factor determining if community benefits contribute to community acceptance is the extent to which these benefits meet the experienced needs of a community. The degree to which solar farm developments succeed in meeting these needs depends on the motives and interest of developers to provide benefits, the history and context of the location and the level of community involvement. By shaping the type of benefits provided by developers together with the community to meet the local needs, the landscape intervention is catering to the community’s needs and wishes.