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Insight Climate: Offshore wind farms, what does the public think?

Submitted on Wednesday, 16/03/2022

Insight’s climate research is broad and varied. An interesting project, undertaken by Yvonne Cronin, as a joint collaboration with Dr Eric Wolsztynski and Dr Val Cummins of Insight and MarEI, looked at public attitudes to the idea of offshore wind farms. The survey was a part of the multidisciplinary, industry led project EirWind. The team analysed the results of a national, online survey carried out between May and June 2019 which gathered opinions in a nationally representative panel of Irish stakeholders. This data was used to better understand the opinions and attitudes of the Irish public towards developing renewable energy projects in Irish waters. The results indicated a large majority of respondents would be in favour of developing offshore wind farms along the Irish coast.

Dr Wolsztynski said, “This survey gives us a sense of what Ireland, and Europe might look like in 2030 or 2050. The results reinforced our knowledge that a future free of fossil fuel is not only achievable, but actively desired. Insight’s expertise in machine learning and statistics will be key in leveraging this enormous potential and achieving this change.”

In general, the survey found that respondents believed these farms to be relatively unobtrusive and that they would be a positive addition to the local environment. The findings will help the offshore wind industry and policymakers to plan and implement future plans for renewable energy solutions, on the strength of a favourable public understanding and opinion of the potential of offshore wind. This work provides key evidence at the national scale that there is a great opportunity to leverage this green resource with a view to reducing our carbon emissions.

This work was published in Elsevier’s Marine Policy and is in open access:

Cronin, Y., Cummins, V., & Wolsztynski, E. (2021). Public perception of offshore wind farms in Ireland. Marine Policy, 134, 104814. Link to Open Access: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X21004255