Survey: only 1 in 10 people in Lithuania notice wind farms, but only 1 in 10 have a negative view of them
The survey results debunked the myth about wind farms. While 87% of the country’s population say they notice wind farms in the landscape, only about one in ten (11%) have a negative view of them, according to a representative survey of the Lithuanian population conducted by the research company Spinter Research. Moreover, even people living in rural areas, where wind farms are most often built, have a positive view of wind farms in the landscape.
According to a survey carried out in January this year, wind farms do not go unnoticed in Lithuania: 28% of respondents always notice them in the country’s landscape, 30% often and 29% rarely. Women and people with higher education are the most likely to notice wind farms, while students and 18-25 year olds are the least likely.
Wind farms in the landscape do not annoy Lithuanians
As many as 77% of respondents have a positive view of wind farms in the landscape, with both large and small cities and rural areas having the same positive view. Given that wind farms are mostly built in rural areas, the positive perception of the population is significant for both wind energy development and park developers.
“The results of the survey confirm that the common belief among wind energy sceptics in Lithuania that wind farms are a blight on the landscape has no basis in reality and does not reflect public opinion in any way. The so-called visual pollution is not considered by the majority of the country’s population to be a problem that should be solved”, comments Urtė Daškevičiūtė, Director of the Lithuanian Wind Energy Association (LVEA).
According to her, wind farms are usually criticised by a small part of the population, taking them out of the overall energy context.
“Wind energy opponents criticise wind farms for allegedly damaging the landscape and causing noise, but if a wind farm was built next to a fossil fuel mine, I wonder if wind farms would really be the first thing that wind energy opponents would hear and see. Looking around us every day, we see signs of progress such as electricity grids, airplanes, cargo ships, but none of these are given as much attention as wind farms because of the way they look in the landscape,” says U. Daškevičiūtė.
According to the LVEA Executive Director, it is pleasantly surprising that the youngest participants in the survey notice wind turbines much less often than the older part of the audience: “The development of renewable energy is probably a natural phenomenon for the young generation. It is therefore to be hoped that the identification of wind turbines with damage to the landscape will eventually be completely forgotten and that they will no longer be unduly demonised.
Wind energy development is strategically important
Stable wind energy development in Lithuania is important not only for wind farm developers, but also for the achievement of Lithuania’s strategic goals. A few years ago, Lithuania set ambitious renewable energy targets with the adoption of the National Energy Independence Strategy. The document foresees that 100% of the country’s heating/cooling and electricity needs must be generated from renewable sources by 2050.
The strategy identifies wind energy as a strategic sector for achieving the targets. In 2030, the majority of electricity – around 55% – is expected to be generated by wind power, so it is crucial that unsubstantiated fears about landscape protection do not prevent the further successful development of wind energy in Lithuania.
“Lithuania is on the right track in promoting the development of renewable energy, but it is normal for some Lithuanians to fear change. It has been proven by various scientific studies that innovations that people do not fully understand or are unfamiliar with cause unfounded fears. In the case of wind farms, one of these fears is about the landscape, and attempts are being made to stop the development of wind energy on the basis of the landscape impact argument. I am sure that there will come a time when wind farms will become a natural part of our landscape that we will no longer notice,” comments U. Daškevičiūtė.
The Ministry of the Environment is currently discussing an amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure, which will regulate the protection of the country’s landscape and is of great interest to wind energy developers. The industry hopes that the decisions taken by the Ministry will not slow down the wind energy development that is already underway.
The survey was carried out by Spinter Research on behalf of the LVEA between 17 and 29 January this year, with 1,010 respondents.