Paper for the International Energy Workshop, June 25-27, 2007, Stanford (CA)

Towards a new methodology for creating societal acceptance of new energy project

This paper proposes a methodology for creating societal acceptance of new energy projects based on an analysis of 22 energy projects in Europe. The framework to compile and analyze the cases is based on socio-technical transitions theory and recent sociological research on public participation in science and technology. In particular we analyze (1) the initial vision articulated by the initiator; (2) the project’s stakeholders and their expectations; (3) the way expectations are negotiated; (4) the way visions are translated into action; and (5) success of the project in terms of societal acceptance, i.e. the way in which the negotiations resulted in degrees of alignment among the stakeholder expectations and project initiator’s vision. We conclude with a proposal for a new six-step methodology for improving societal acceptance of new energy projects. This methodology is currently explored, used and reflected upon in five projects in Europe: a German biomass project, an Italian thermodynamic solar project, an Icelandic hydrogen project, a Dutch CCS project and a Hungarian wind project (www.createacceptance.net).