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Mapping meaningful places: A tool for participatory siting of wind turbines in Switzerland?


Müller, Stefanie; Backhaus, Norman; Buchecker, Matthias (2020). Mapping meaningful places: A tool for participatory siting of wind turbines in Switzerland? Energy Research & Social Science, 69:101573.

Abstract

Many scholars have argued that participatory tools designed around people's site preferences for renewable energy infrastructure require capturing the invisible and often intangible associations that people hold for places. In this study we propose that mapping meaningful places may be a suitable participatory tool to capture such associations. The notion of meaningful places is related to the concept of sense of place; however, it can be considered as more fluid and, therefore, may better depict not only the relationships that people have to places, but also the discourses that influence how technology-fit is perceived. To test whether the mapping of meaningful places is feasible for the planning of renewable energy projects, we mapped the meaningful places, using interviews and PPGIS, of people with pro, contra and indifferent attitudes towards three ongoing wind energy projects situated in different planning and spatial contexts of Switzerland. Based on the verbal and spatial data, we developed argumentation maps that allowed for recursive analysis of both types of data. The argumentation maps revealed that mapping of meaningful places alone is insufficient to identify sites accepted by different attitude groups. If applied in highly contested planning contexts, it might solidify diverging attitudes rather than facilitate consensus. The mapping alone may only work for well-embedded wind energy projects or in planning contexts that allow open outcomes. Since this is rather the exception in renewable energy planning, additional interactive platforms are needed in which contrasting meanings of place and technology can be discussed and debated to maintain their fluidity.

Abstract

Many scholars have argued that participatory tools designed around people's site preferences for renewable energy infrastructure require capturing the invisible and often intangible associations that people hold for places. In this study we propose that mapping meaningful places may be a suitable participatory tool to capture such associations. The notion of meaningful places is related to the concept of sense of place; however, it can be considered as more fluid and, therefore, may better depict not only the relationships that people have to places, but also the discourses that influence how technology-fit is perceived. To test whether the mapping of meaningful places is feasible for the planning of renewable energy projects, we mapped the meaningful places, using interviews and PPGIS, of people with pro, contra and indifferent attitudes towards three ongoing wind energy projects situated in different planning and spatial contexts of Switzerland. Based on the verbal and spatial data, we developed argumentation maps that allowed for recursive analysis of both types of data. The argumentation maps revealed that mapping of meaningful places alone is insufficient to identify sites accepted by different attitude groups. If applied in highly contested planning contexts, it might solidify diverging attitudes rather than facilitate consensus. The mapping alone may only work for well-embedded wind energy projects or in planning contexts that allow open outcomes. Since this is rather the exception in renewable energy planning, additional interactive platforms are needed in which contrasting meanings of place and technology can be discussed and debated to maintain their fluidity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Fuel Technology, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment, Social Sciences (miscellaneous), Energy Engineering and Power Technology, Nuclear Energy and Engineering
Language:English
Date:1 November 2020
Deposited On:26 May 2020 13:20
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 15:13
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:2214-6296
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101573

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