Modeling the Influence of Human Factors on the Perception of Renewable Energies. Taking Geothermics as Example
Authors: Sylvia Kowalewski*, Anna Borg**, Johanna Kluge*, Simon Himmel*, Bianka Trevisan*, Denise Eraßme*, Martina Ziefle*, Eva-Maria Jakobs*
Abstract: Issues of social acceptance, such as lack of awareness and negative community perceptions, can considerably affect technology development and rollout. For this purposes a deeper understanding of underlying mechanisms that influence acceptance is urgently needed in the context of renewable energies when the goal is to reduce CO2 emission by 20% until the year 2020. The associated project of this study - TIGER - has the aim to develop a communication strategy to implement renewable energy technologies like geothermics. As a first step this research focuses on analyzing factors that determine the perception and thus acceptance of deep geothermal energy technologies. A study was conducted with a sample of 360 participants in the western part of Germany. The TPB (Theory of planned behavior) was expanded with further variables such as environmental attitudes and attitudes towards renewable energies. A structural equation model was used to analyze the correlation between proposed psychological antecedents and further moderating factors on the acceptance of geothermal power plants in the own neighborhood. Results show that underlying motives as well as barriers significantly affect the acceptance of geothermal energy. Behavioral control appeared as an important moderating effect in this model whereas the influence of environmental attitudes is not apparent. Furthermore, results also reveal that especially the scope of information plays an important role in acceptance of geothermal energy, meaning informed people show a significantly higher acceptance and less skepticism than not-informed people. This emphasizes the urgent need for information and communication in the context of relatively unknown technologies like geothermal energy.
Keywords: Acceptance research, Renewable energies, Theory of planned behavior, Deep geothermal energy, Communication strategies
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