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Wind Power Deployment: The Role of Public Participation in the Decision-Making Process in Ontario, Canada

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 17:29 by Anahita A. Jami, Philip R. Walsh
A wider use of renewable energy is emerging as a viable solution to meet the increasing demand for global energy while contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. However, current literature on renewable energy, particularly on wind power, highlights the social barriers and public opposition to renewable energy investment. One solution to overcome the public opposition, which is recommended by scholars, is to deploy a collaborative approach. Relatively little research has specifically focused on the role of effective communication and the use of a knowledge-broker in collaborative decision-making. This study attempts to fill this gap through the proposition of a participatory framework that highlights the role of the knowledge-broker in a wind project decision-making process. In this paper, five illustrative wind projects in Ontario are used to highlight the current situation with public participation and to address how the proposed framework could have improved the process. Based on the recommended collaborative framework, perception must shift from the dominant view of the public as “a risk to be managed” towards “a resource that can be tapped”. The developers need to improve sharing what they know and foster co-learning around questions and concerns.