Earning local support for energy projects in Ireland

This programme presents a new approach to hearing, acknowledging and addressing concerns around energy infrastructure projects in Ireland.

Its goal is successful sustainable outcomes: it enables neighbours and developers to engage to create win-win projects.

This programme for earning local support for energy projects in Ireland was created through researching, developing, trialling, critically examining and building confidence in a successful approach1 to enable developers and project neighbours to design energy projects wanted by both, through an inclusive and informed decision-making process; resulting in projects supporting the sustainability of all concerned.

1 previously applied to over 20 projects in 10 countries in and around Europe.

1. Programme Overview

This research, develop and demonstrate programme created a framework that enables the renewable energy revolution to earn local support through its projects being co-designed in a way that supports the success of all involved.


Programme Overview
Situational Analysis

2. Situation Analysis

A deep dive into the underlying challenges which are required to be addressed in order to earn local support for wind energy projects in Ireland.


3. Literature Review

Scholars have been studying some of the building blocks required to earn local support for large infrastructure projects with community impacts such as wind farms for some time – let's take a look at what they found.


Literature Review
Guide to earning local support for energy projects in Ireland

4. Guide to earning local support for energy projects in Ireland

People like projects they can be proud of - great projects. This guide enables an engagement process through which neighbours, developers & the authorities can create and incorporate locally supported sustainable energy projects.


5. Local Support Checklist

There is a lot happening as developers deal with financial, technical, environmental and community issues all at the same time. This check list provides a quick guide for what is required of them to earn local support.


Local Support Checklist
Case Studies

6. Case Studies

Some of the key aspects covered in the guide to earning local support have been illustrated in these case studies.


7. Next steps

A lot has been accomplished in this programme. It has outlined much of the work required to earn local support for wind energy projects. This has resulted from many conversations with neighbours, developers and policy makers. This conversation is on-going - please become part of it to help build both community development and sustainable energy success.


Next steps

This RDD Programme is led by AstonECO Management ltd., and peer reviewed by NUIG.

astoneco management
NUI Galway
SEAI Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Programme Overview

This document gives an overview of the project and some of its key considerations.

The project researched, developed, trailed & critically examined a successful approach* to enable developers and project neighbours to design energy projects wanted by both, through an inclusive and informed decision making process.

Results, guidance and case studies are provided to build confidence in the use of this approach

* Successfully applied to over 20 infrastructure, energy and natural resource projects in 10 countries.

Situation Analysis

When it comes to wind farms in Ireland, there are those who are totally in favour, those who are totally opposed, and many in between. Where do these vastly differing viewpoints come from?

Listening to, understanding and acknowledging the perspectives of neighbours, industry and government enables effective discussions in the decision making process.

Literature Review

Early on in the project, the solutions being offered through the building of a Social License to Operate (SLO) were examined through this literature review. The review digs deep into the opportunities & challenges therein.

The SLO concept is used extensively in the extractive industries. More recently it has been applied to wind farms.

Core to the approach is the examination and addressing of distributional and procedural justice issues as well as potential negative externalities associated with their operations

Guide to earning local support for energy projects in Ireland

While project developers put significant effort into a project’s readiness for finance, a strategic focus on what the project means for local communities is equally important.

This often requires a place where all potentially impacted individuals can find out the full facts of what is being proposed, before a project is designed.

But how can such a process be established? This guide looks at a process to do this.

Local Support Checklist

Experience from projects with potential community impacts – be it renewable energy infrastructure, natural resource developments, tourism or infrastructure – shows that there are some basic steps that a project developer, and a community, ignore at their peril.

This Quick Guide acts as an aid memoire to ensure these steps are taken in time.

Case Studies

Busy people want to see that an approach can deliver before adopting it. Especially an approach that requires some change and significant investment in time and resources.

If other peers in the industry have not tried it out yet and proven it works then this is more so the case. It would be nice if all solutions were de-risked before having to choose them. But being a leader in the field also has its benefits.

A series of projects have been undertaken to help demonstrate and build confidence in the approach outlined in the Guide to design projects wanted by both neighbours and developers.

To focus in on detail, each project demonstrates different combinations of aspects of the Guide.

Some of these case studies are named and are ongoing; others have preferred to remain unnamed for now.


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Next steps

Turning current community concerns into strengths through re-imagining how the wind industry designs projects is a great opportunity to significantly improve the earning of local support.

It also has great potential to contribute to another government policy pillar besides that of decarbonisation our economy: namely to meet our sustainable development goals.

To facilitate this, an accelerated process to address the concerns of decision makers so they have the confidence to embrace this opportunity is needed.

This section documents further work and research that will help this happen.