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Exploring perceptions, acceptance
and barriers of the solar transition
using a mixed-methods framework
to combine stakeholder interviews
and garden fence surveys
30
August
2023
Université du Luxembourg
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11 Portes des sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette
Catherine Jones ,Tom Becker and Alex Skinner
2
Luxembourg is characterised by a diverse population underlined by multiculturalism and multilingualism. A proportion of its
residential population is transient in nature, residing in the country for 5 to 8 years at most. Furthermore, the country is facing an
affordable housing crisis with both rental and purchase prices being exceptionally high. We hypothesise that these local socio-
demographic characteristics add complexity to the transition towards Carbon Zero societies. Given the acknowledged importance of
social acceptance to this transition, we explore these local dynamics alongside the more recognised barriers to acceptance documented in the
literature.
In this study, we develop a novel mixed-methods research framework focused on neighbourhoods, to enable us to more deeply
explore the local acceptance of the energy transition. We evaluate perspectives from stakeholders and local residents’
viewpoints against a set of working hypotheses related to rejection, resistance, approval and support of the transition.
For this end, we have devised a playful activity called the garden fence surveys that will be conducted at a local citizens festival. Achieved by working
alongside a local intermunicipal cooperation body, Prosud. we explore local perceptions of the energy transition. The results of
which will be evaluated alongside stakeholder interviews to test our local hypotheses associated with acceptance of solar energy to provide more in-
depth understanding to support transition activities.
ABSTRACT
3
Problem statement
Diverse (hidden) socio-economic characteristics add further complexity to the (solar)
energy transition how to better explore, evaluate and understand priorities
Multilingual
Multicultural
Share of international
residents: 47%
(Public.lu, 2023)
Constant turn-over of
(expat) migrants.
Affordable
housing crises
Insufficient affordable
housing
Local dynamics of
Carbon zero
societies
Focus on theoretical
possibilities
Transient
Population
*https://luxembourg.public.lu/en/society-and-culture/population/demographics.html
4
Aims & Objectives
To explore local nuances in the (solar) renewable
energy transition in order to gain a clear
understanding of priorities related to:
• local perceptions of,
• acceptance with,
• and barriers to
the energy transition
5
Method: Investigating dynamics of the solar energy transition
Overview
• Using a case study approach to evaluate
perceptions, acceptance and barriers at
different scales of governance and
population (3) different land/cityscapes
• Developing a mixed-methods
methodology
Phase 1: Scoping exercise
• Garden fence surveys
• Expert Interviews
• Quantitative evaluation
6
• 3rd largest town in Luxembourg
• 39% of the surface is built
• 61 % of the surface is covered by
forests, agriculture & nature reserves
• Industrial town in the south of
Luxembourg
• Town with a history of migration
• Relatively affordable housing
• Total population: 29.703
(Source: https://differdange.lu/en/urban-
development/la-ville-en-chiffres/)
Differdange Pilot Case Study (1 of 3)
7
Photo by Yuri Shirota on Unsplash
Quantitative Analysis
Aim: to understand the state of residential solar implementation in Luxembourg and by
corollary Differdange?
• What is the spatial distribution of residential solar PV in Luxembourg?
• Evaluate state of Solar Energy using Deep Learning processes to classify orthoimages
(Data from 2022 -> resolution of 0.1m)
• Analysis conducted for all of Luxembourg
• Literature:
• CNN to identify solar PV has been tried and tested with both high and low-resolution imagery
(Kwan, 2012.; Yu et al., 2018)
• Different image sources such as satellite or aerial (Mao et al., 2023).
• recent studies have used orthophotographic imagery with resolutions between 0.3 and 0.05m
for higher precision (de Hoog et al., 2020; Mayer et al., 2020; Sommer et al., 2018; Yuan et al.,
2016) Alex Skinner Master thesis
8
Method: Investigating dynamics of the solar energy transition
Alex Skinner Master thesis
In Differdange, less than 3 in every 1000 residential buildings have implemented Solar PV
9
A garden fence survey
With ProSud Citizens Festival Differdange Summer 2023
• Collabroation with localintermunicipal cooperation body - PROSUD
• Mixed-method Garden Fence Survey in form of postcard booklet
• Multilingual
• French, English, Portuguese
• Playful closed survey questions
• 9 hypothesis: general attitude, proximity, visibility, home ownership, community initiatives,
financial commitments, investment value, place attachment and familiarity with
technology (questions inspired by Schumacher, 2019)
• Options based on : Active acceptance, passive acceptance, indifference, passive resistance,
active rejection (Schweizer-Ries, P., 2008 ; Schumacher, 2019 ; Rau et al, 2012 ; Hai, 2019)
• Open-ended sentence completion questions
.
Aim: To gain a better understanding of local citizen perceptions of the preferences, acceptance
and barriers to implementation of the solar transition
10
Garden Fence Interviews - sample
Gender identity
Age-Groups
Sample info
Purpose: pilot the tools and get a sense of opinions
Method: convenience sampling
Differdange population: approx. 29,000
Representativeness:
for 95% confidence level with a population of 29,000 and a margin of error of
10% the ideal sample size is 96
Limitations
• Sampling bias: women filled it out for couples
• Selection bias: those attending the cultural festival; those interested in the topic
• Generalisation of data beyond Differdange (population variation)
Returns: 124 responses
11
Solar energy is…..
12
Passive acceptance of the Solar Energy Transition
Passive acceptance for energy projects
implemented at the neighbourhood scale
General desire for more information
Early Findings
Rejection of current need for personal finance
Curiosity for Community Energy solutions
Strong Acceptance for installation on ALL
public buildings (=roofs)
13
Expert Interviews
Planners, Architects, local stakeholders
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash
Aim : To gain a better understanding of local stakeholder perceptions of the renewable energy transition
investigating barriers to implementation and social acceptance of the solar transition
• Status: Ongoing
• 1 group interview conducted using 3 languages simultaneously (French, Luxembourgish and English)
• Involving Spatial Planners
• Purpose: to evaluate perceptions of where the energy transition is currently, existing priorities and understand
the role of solar in the transition
• Topics:
• The local energy transition
• Solar and its role in the local energy transition
• Exploring the future
• Opportunties for knowldege exchange/ networking
.
14
Questions of scale
Questions of governance
The role of community energy
Socio-economic responsibilities
The role of the circular economy
Challenges of Cross Border initiatives
Preliminary Findings from Interviews
Managing Conflicts
Policy & energy planning
Local, national & regional
Political and/or Environmental
The role of Financing (PPP)
Existing priorities not focused on solar
15
Citizens have passive acceptance of the solar energy transition, but implementation is
constrained by complexity of socio-economic and political factors
Indication likelihood for new models of community energy that are
required to support energy equity
Solar is still considered a socio-technical system for the future
In summary
Helps us to gain a better cultural–cognitive understanding of how things are done
16
Next Steps
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash
• Conduct more interviews with representatives of Environmental Department, Architects and NGOs, National
Authorities for Energy, Environment, Spatial Planning and Housing.
• Group/individual interviews with Citizens
• Phase 2: Workshops to explore priorities and emerging themes
17
Individuals cannot pay for the
transition
— spatial planner 2
Whilst we recognise the urgent need to transform the ways in which we produce and consume energy this
requires considerable financial investment. The current development of responsibility focused on
residential solar, financed through personal loans and subsidies will, we believe inevitably reinforce existing
limitations to reach energy equity.
20
The hypothesis on which we built the questionnaire
Social acceptance of renewable energy is more nuanced at the local level than national surveys indicate
Whilst the public is considered to be generally accepting of RES, solar energy installations have greater general acceptance nationally than if local projects are
proposed in residential neighbourhoods?
People are accepting of solar energy but distance to the installation/project impacts the likelihood of acceptance.
Solar plants have greater acceptance when they are further from the residential neighbourhoods?
People are accepting of solar energy but the scale of the plant impacts their likelihood of acceptance.
In residential neighbourhoods, solar plants have greater acceptance when they are of a smaller scale (local neighbourhood scale)
People are accepting of solar energy but the visibility of the plant impacts their likelihood of acceptance. People don’t want to be able to see
the solar energy installation.
In residential neighbourhoods solar plants have greater acceptance when they are not visible from the windows of their homes.
People are accepting of solar energy but their sense of place attachment impacts their likelihood of their acceptance.
People with stronger attachments to place/neighbourhoods will have lowers levels acceptance of acceptnce if they feel it will impact the neighbourhood.
People are accepting of solar energy but they don’t perceive the return of investment as an added value so they are reluctant to invest
Those that don’t perceive the investment of solar energy as an added value to their home are reluctant to make the transition.
People are accepting of solar energy but it is difficult to access loans
People are generally accepting of the solar energy but those with lower income are less likely to be able to afford loans for their installation
People are accepting of solar energy but the complexity of the land/housing ownership and housing situation impacts their ability to act.
Some people are accepting of solar energy but are generally late adopters of technology and are reluctant to embrace the transition as they
think its complicated?
20

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Royal Geographical Society Presentation

  • 1. 1 Exploring perceptions, acceptance and barriers of the solar transition using a mixed-methods framework to combine stakeholder interviews and garden fence surveys 30 August 2023 Université du Luxembourg Maison des Sciences Humaines 11 Portes des sciences L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette Catherine Jones ,Tom Becker and Alex Skinner
  • 2. 2 Luxembourg is characterised by a diverse population underlined by multiculturalism and multilingualism. A proportion of its residential population is transient in nature, residing in the country for 5 to 8 years at most. Furthermore, the country is facing an affordable housing crisis with both rental and purchase prices being exceptionally high. We hypothesise that these local socio- demographic characteristics add complexity to the transition towards Carbon Zero societies. Given the acknowledged importance of social acceptance to this transition, we explore these local dynamics alongside the more recognised barriers to acceptance documented in the literature. In this study, we develop a novel mixed-methods research framework focused on neighbourhoods, to enable us to more deeply explore the local acceptance of the energy transition. We evaluate perspectives from stakeholders and local residents’ viewpoints against a set of working hypotheses related to rejection, resistance, approval and support of the transition. For this end, we have devised a playful activity called the garden fence surveys that will be conducted at a local citizens festival. Achieved by working alongside a local intermunicipal cooperation body, Prosud. we explore local perceptions of the energy transition. The results of which will be evaluated alongside stakeholder interviews to test our local hypotheses associated with acceptance of solar energy to provide more in- depth understanding to support transition activities. ABSTRACT
  • 3. 3 Problem statement Diverse (hidden) socio-economic characteristics add further complexity to the (solar) energy transition how to better explore, evaluate and understand priorities Multilingual Multicultural Share of international residents: 47% (Public.lu, 2023) Constant turn-over of (expat) migrants. Affordable housing crises Insufficient affordable housing Local dynamics of Carbon zero societies Focus on theoretical possibilities Transient Population *https://luxembourg.public.lu/en/society-and-culture/population/demographics.html
  • 4. 4 Aims & Objectives To explore local nuances in the (solar) renewable energy transition in order to gain a clear understanding of priorities related to: • local perceptions of, • acceptance with, • and barriers to the energy transition
  • 5. 5 Method: Investigating dynamics of the solar energy transition Overview • Using a case study approach to evaluate perceptions, acceptance and barriers at different scales of governance and population (3) different land/cityscapes • Developing a mixed-methods methodology Phase 1: Scoping exercise • Garden fence surveys • Expert Interviews • Quantitative evaluation
  • 6. 6 • 3rd largest town in Luxembourg • 39% of the surface is built • 61 % of the surface is covered by forests, agriculture & nature reserves • Industrial town in the south of Luxembourg • Town with a history of migration • Relatively affordable housing • Total population: 29.703 (Source: https://differdange.lu/en/urban- development/la-ville-en-chiffres/) Differdange Pilot Case Study (1 of 3)
  • 7. 7 Photo by Yuri Shirota on Unsplash Quantitative Analysis Aim: to understand the state of residential solar implementation in Luxembourg and by corollary Differdange? • What is the spatial distribution of residential solar PV in Luxembourg? • Evaluate state of Solar Energy using Deep Learning processes to classify orthoimages (Data from 2022 -> resolution of 0.1m) • Analysis conducted for all of Luxembourg • Literature: • CNN to identify solar PV has been tried and tested with both high and low-resolution imagery (Kwan, 2012.; Yu et al., 2018) • Different image sources such as satellite or aerial (Mao et al., 2023). • recent studies have used orthophotographic imagery with resolutions between 0.3 and 0.05m for higher precision (de Hoog et al., 2020; Mayer et al., 2020; Sommer et al., 2018; Yuan et al., 2016) Alex Skinner Master thesis
  • 8. 8 Method: Investigating dynamics of the solar energy transition Alex Skinner Master thesis In Differdange, less than 3 in every 1000 residential buildings have implemented Solar PV
  • 9. 9 A garden fence survey With ProSud Citizens Festival Differdange Summer 2023 • Collabroation with localintermunicipal cooperation body - PROSUD • Mixed-method Garden Fence Survey in form of postcard booklet • Multilingual • French, English, Portuguese • Playful closed survey questions • 9 hypothesis: general attitude, proximity, visibility, home ownership, community initiatives, financial commitments, investment value, place attachment and familiarity with technology (questions inspired by Schumacher, 2019) • Options based on : Active acceptance, passive acceptance, indifference, passive resistance, active rejection (Schweizer-Ries, P., 2008 ; Schumacher, 2019 ; Rau et al, 2012 ; Hai, 2019) • Open-ended sentence completion questions . Aim: To gain a better understanding of local citizen perceptions of the preferences, acceptance and barriers to implementation of the solar transition
  • 10. 10 Garden Fence Interviews - sample Gender identity Age-Groups Sample info Purpose: pilot the tools and get a sense of opinions Method: convenience sampling Differdange population: approx. 29,000 Representativeness: for 95% confidence level with a population of 29,000 and a margin of error of 10% the ideal sample size is 96 Limitations • Sampling bias: women filled it out for couples • Selection bias: those attending the cultural festival; those interested in the topic • Generalisation of data beyond Differdange (population variation) Returns: 124 responses
  • 12. 12 Passive acceptance of the Solar Energy Transition Passive acceptance for energy projects implemented at the neighbourhood scale General desire for more information Early Findings Rejection of current need for personal finance Curiosity for Community Energy solutions Strong Acceptance for installation on ALL public buildings (=roofs)
  • 13. 13 Expert Interviews Planners, Architects, local stakeholders Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash Aim : To gain a better understanding of local stakeholder perceptions of the renewable energy transition investigating barriers to implementation and social acceptance of the solar transition • Status: Ongoing • 1 group interview conducted using 3 languages simultaneously (French, Luxembourgish and English) • Involving Spatial Planners • Purpose: to evaluate perceptions of where the energy transition is currently, existing priorities and understand the role of solar in the transition • Topics: • The local energy transition • Solar and its role in the local energy transition • Exploring the future • Opportunties for knowldege exchange/ networking .
  • 14. 14 Questions of scale Questions of governance The role of community energy Socio-economic responsibilities The role of the circular economy Challenges of Cross Border initiatives Preliminary Findings from Interviews Managing Conflicts Policy & energy planning Local, national & regional Political and/or Environmental The role of Financing (PPP) Existing priorities not focused on solar
  • 15. 15 Citizens have passive acceptance of the solar energy transition, but implementation is constrained by complexity of socio-economic and political factors Indication likelihood for new models of community energy that are required to support energy equity Solar is still considered a socio-technical system for the future In summary Helps us to gain a better cultural–cognitive understanding of how things are done
  • 16. 16 Next Steps Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash • Conduct more interviews with representatives of Environmental Department, Architects and NGOs, National Authorities for Energy, Environment, Spatial Planning and Housing. • Group/individual interviews with Citizens • Phase 2: Workshops to explore priorities and emerging themes
  • 17. 17 Individuals cannot pay for the transition — spatial planner 2 Whilst we recognise the urgent need to transform the ways in which we produce and consume energy this requires considerable financial investment. The current development of responsibility focused on residential solar, financed through personal loans and subsidies will, we believe inevitably reinforce existing limitations to reach energy equity.
  • 18. 20 The hypothesis on which we built the questionnaire Social acceptance of renewable energy is more nuanced at the local level than national surveys indicate Whilst the public is considered to be generally accepting of RES, solar energy installations have greater general acceptance nationally than if local projects are proposed in residential neighbourhoods? People are accepting of solar energy but distance to the installation/project impacts the likelihood of acceptance. Solar plants have greater acceptance when they are further from the residential neighbourhoods? People are accepting of solar energy but the scale of the plant impacts their likelihood of acceptance. In residential neighbourhoods, solar plants have greater acceptance when they are of a smaller scale (local neighbourhood scale) People are accepting of solar energy but the visibility of the plant impacts their likelihood of acceptance. People don’t want to be able to see the solar energy installation. In residential neighbourhoods solar plants have greater acceptance when they are not visible from the windows of their homes. People are accepting of solar energy but their sense of place attachment impacts their likelihood of their acceptance. People with stronger attachments to place/neighbourhoods will have lowers levels acceptance of acceptnce if they feel it will impact the neighbourhood. People are accepting of solar energy but they don’t perceive the return of investment as an added value so they are reluctant to invest Those that don’t perceive the investment of solar energy as an added value to their home are reluctant to make the transition. People are accepting of solar energy but it is difficult to access loans People are generally accepting of the solar energy but those with lower income are less likely to be able to afford loans for their installation People are accepting of solar energy but the complexity of the land/housing ownership and housing situation impacts their ability to act. Some people are accepting of solar energy but are generally late adopters of technology and are reluctant to embrace the transition as they think its complicated? 20