Germany’s 20 years of energy transition experience hold valuable lessons learned, recipes for success but also mistakes to avoid for other countries. The objective of this study was to explore the best solutions for improving community acceptance of onshore and offshore wind farms in South Korea by benchmarking Germany’s policy practices and experiences with community acceptance of wind projects. The study is based on desk research, literature review and expert interviews with project developers, municipality representatives and stakeholders from civil society. Community acceptance can be generated through financial participation and public participation in the planning process. The interview questionnaire thus focused on different elements of financial and public participation. In total, eleven case studies were developed, each offering specific lessons learned. Based on the best practices and lessons learned, twelve policy recommendations for improving community acceptance of onshore and offshore wind farms in South Korea were developed.
Firstly, as part of a comprehensive public participation process, citizens should be involved as early, inclusively and transparently as possible. Secondly, municipalities should actively communicate the benefits of wind energy for their community and local value creation. For increased acceptance, the tax revenue from the wind park should not become part of the general municipal budget, but should be earmarked for investments that are well visible for the citizens. Third, active financial participation by citizens is beneficial for community acceptance. Active financial participation can take many forms; the most prevalent is the energy cooperative already widely used in Germany and Korea.
Fourth, wind farms can create winners and losers in a local community. Projects should include elements to create distributional justice, such as a redistribution of lease payments. Fifth, the origin of the project developer can be key. In every examined case where the project developer was a local actor, the interviewees and the literature research confirmed a positive effect on community acceptance. Sixth, local politicians who are committed to the project and act as advocates can increase community acceptance.
Seventh, the political and regulatory framework needs to be attractive for wind energy development and should support participation of citizens in wind projects. Eighth, projects need to be planned thoroughly. Good project and spatial planning will reduce the risk of legal conflicts and increase acceptance. Ninth, project developers should honour citizen’s concerns about environmental impacts and should communicate openly and transparently.
Tenth, offshore wind farms should, if possible, be built in a distance to shore, as this reduces acceptance problems. Eleventh, misinformation can pose a significant threat to wind park acceptance. This should be counteracted by information campaigns and a clear commitment. Lastly, the importance of the specific wind energy project for achieving energy transition and climate change mitigation should be emphasized. Communities often have a broader acceptance of the energy transition itself, which might be forgotten in the local project context.