On the spatial differentiation of energy transitions: Exploring determinants of uneven wind energy developments in the Czech Republic

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Abstract

Wind energy research is dominated by studies of local acceptance (or not) of wind farms and comparative studies at a national level. Research on the spatial differentiation of wind energy developments at the regional level is still insufficient, however. This study provides new empirical evidence for the extent to which regional differences in the deployment of wind energy are related to specific environmental and socioeconomic factors, by a statistical analysis of data for districts in the Czech Republic. Unlike previous studies, we found that the installed capacity of wind energy cannot be well predicted by wind potential, land area and population density in an area. In the Czech Republic, wind farms more likely have been implemented in more urbanised, environmentally deprived coal-mining areas that are affected by economic depression. It seems that in environmentally deprived areas, wind energy is more positively accepted as an alternative source to coal, and the economic motivation (financial benefits for municipalities) can have a greater effect on local acceptance, while public opposition is less efficient due to lower social capital and involvement in political matters. Based on these results, some implications for the planning and spatial targeting of new wind farms are discussed.

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