More deployment of renewable energy technologies (RET) could potentially result in negative side effects like visual or noise impacts, or increased local transport for biomass. The integration of renewables in societies asks for institutional solutions that take the concerns of citizens and other stakeholders seriously. Fortunately, many good practices exist that have demonstrated that renewables can be integrated in the ‘backyards’ of modern societies. The IEA-RETD has prepared a guidebook with many of these institutional solutions. Examples are: stakeholder involvement, -participation and even -compensation, or clear spatial planning and legal procedures that are trusted by all stakeholders. Project developers and both national and local policy makers can learn examples in other countries.
The RETs addressed in the guidebook include: wind energy (onshore and offshore); solar thermal and solar electric energy; biomass and biogas; wave and tidal energy; and geothermal energy. The best practices are described according to the following three dimensions:
- spatial planning;
- integration of RETs into the local environment; and
- stakeholder involvement.
A key to successful RET deployment is proper spatial planning, which balances the many interests surrounding a RET project. National authorities can make a major difference by creating a legal framework that supports effective spatial planning. Local authorities also play a crucial role in being responsible for the planning process itself. Developers can do a lot to respond to local concerns by carefully integrating the technologies into the local context, respecting the local landscape and other natural assets and seeking ways to harmoniously integrate the RET into the surrounding environment.
The involvement of – and communication with – the stakeholders that are directly affected by the projects should be carefully considered throughout all phases of the project. Stakeholder involvement and communication is principally the responsibility of the project developers, but local authorities can also play an important role.