People in the US who live near wind turbines prefer to keep them rather than swap them for a fossil fuel power plant or a solar installation, according to new analysis published in Nature Energy for an existing large-scale survey.
The original survey was undertaken by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy, in 2017. It covered 1,705 people in the United States who lived within five miles of a commercial-grade wind turbine and sought to gain a comprehensive understanding of the attitudes of local communities that live near turbines, such as whether they were bothered by noise.
Researchers Jeremy Firestone and Hannah Kirk took the publically available data from this survey and looked at it from a different angle. Rather than taking the traditional approach of asking whether people preferred wind power or no wind power, the researchers sought to establish whether people would favour another option instead of wind power. Their logic was that society needs to generate electricity somehow, so wind turbines would need to be replaced with something else. They found that about 90% of respondents wound not want to swap their neighbourhood wind farm for a natural gas, coal, or nuclear power plant at a similar proximity.
While the research has some limitations, it sheds new light on people’s attitudes toward wind power, which is emerging as a growing source of electricity in the UK thanks to advances in technology and lubricants, such as those from Mobil distributors.