Public acceptance of renewable energies and energy autonomy: A comparative study in the French, German and Swiss Upper Rhine region

K. Schumacher*, F. Krones, R. McKenna, F. Schultmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


In the context of climate change mitigation and increasing decentralized generation of energy from renewable sources, public acceptance of renewable energy (RE) has become an important issue in energy research. Many studies have addressed public acceptance through a case-based empirical lens with rather specific conclusions for individual technologies in a given context. This paper draws more universal insights by conducting an online survey on public acceptance for a set of technologies in the three sub-regions of the Upper Rhine region (URR). Using a representative dataset of 495 German, 501 French, and 493 Swiss inhabitants of the URR, several hypotheses from the acceptance literature are tested across sub-regions and RE technologies and results are compared to related empirical studies from the literature. Moreover, we explore for the first time how public acceptance is linked with community energy and energy autonomy. The latter is especially important to understand how policy and project initiators can mobilise the population to contribute to the energy transition. Our main findings are that public acceptance is, inter alia, highly dependent on the technology in question, the dimension of social acceptance (community versus socio-political dimension) and previous experiences with RE technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-332
Number of pages18
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date27 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

This work was performed in the context of the research projects ‘OUI Biomasse’ (Innovations for sustainable biomass utilization in the Upper Rhine Region) and URCforSR (Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research) both financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and other national co-financiers. The authors thank the ERDF and the Science Offensive of the Trinational Metropolitan Upper Rhine Region for their financial support. Moreover, the authors are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on a previous version of this article. Finally, the authors thank Wojciech Kata, and Natalie Lanzrath who have supported the study as research assistant. The usual disclaimer applies.


  • Community energy
  • Energy autonomy
  • International survey
  • Public acceptance
  • Renewable energy


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