As part of the renewable energy transition, for the past few years, the Netherlands has been implementing wind farms as its resource, both onshore and offshore. The onshore wind farms so far gained shallow public acceptance with various issues such as overlooked locals’ interests, unfairness sense and low trust to the government, and physical visibility, noise, and shadow of wind turbines. Previous studies showed that people possess a better acceptance of offshore wind farms in other countries. However, since offshore wind farms are newer and very different than the onshore ones, there is no research that specifically assesses the public acceptance of offshore wind farms in the Netherlands. This research aimed to fill that gap by examining the public acceptance using an existing framework provided by POLIMP, an organization founded by the European Union. This organization consists of several research institutions that put interest in social aspects of sustainable development, including renewable energy technology. They identified five possible influential elements which were public awareness, fairness sense, trust towards stakeholders, evaluation of costs, risks, and, benefits of a technology/resource, and local context.
This research tested that framework and based on the analysis of it, came up with a new adjusted framework, customized specially for investigating the factors that influence public acceptance of offshore wind farms in the Netherlands. The data of this study were gathered with an online survey and analyzed quantitatively with correlation and regression methods. The results show that based on the existing framework, public’s high level of awareness, positive evaluation of costs, risks, and benefits and local context fit influenced public acceptance of offshore wind farms in the Netherlands. The results from the new adjusted model reveal that knowledge about the needs of renewable energy and trust towards the researchers as the source of that knowledge is essential to influence public acceptance. Fairness sense, trust towards other involved stakeholders, and demographic characteristics did not give any positive influence to the public acceptance of offshore wind farms in the Netherlands.
It is recommended for the researchers to be open for interaction and communicate with the public to not just improve public’s awareness but also their understanding regarding the knowledge about the needs and the technology of offshore wind farms. This awareness will lead the public to have a better evaluation of performance and regulations of offshore wind farms. It is also advised to pay great attention to the location of offshore wind farms. Not only regarding the view and sound impacts, but also the ecology impact related to biodiversity and the fishing industry.