Landscape Alteration due to Renewable Energy Development: Agenda Setting in the Social Sciences

By Susan McPartland.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Renewable energy development is expanding throughout the United States. With the rapid increase in wind and other renewable energy production, the question of where such development is taking place becomes increasingly important. While many investigations of renewable energy structures’ physical ecological impacts have been undertaken, the aesthetic and social impacts of such landscape alteration have received little attention. Moreover, research on how this type of landscape alteration affects the individuals and communities for whom development is visible has focused on areas where development has already occurred. Research has shown that communities located or invested in these areas have largely responded negatively to the aesthetic qualities and presence of visible renewable energy structures. While studying existing structures was a logical starting point for this research, investigating attitudes towards renewable energy structures before development takes place would allow visual preferences to be understood and discussed before construction. Conflicts surrounding the placement of renewable energy development have not been thoroughly researched. The roots of existing and potential conflicts need to be examined and understood. For the purpose of future development, it is important to understand reactions to renewable energy structures as the placement of future wind farms, solar panels, solar collectors and other renewable energy structures is decided. Landscape alteration due to renewable energy development needs to become a forefront agenda item for the social sciences. The topic needs to be investigated before development takes place and, most importantly, needs to add to local, regional and national conversations about where and how development should be adopted. This paper will present an affective starting point for this important social science agenda item.

Keywords: Landscape Alteration, Renewable Energy Development, Renewable Energy Structures, Social Science Agenda, Development, Conservation, Preservation, Place Attachment, Place Identity, Place Dependency

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.63-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 721.522KB).

Susan McPartland

Masters Candidate, Master of Social Sciences & Humanities, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA

Susan is a graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver. Academic interests include landscape alteration and the cultural impacts it may have. She is currently conducting research in this field and will complete her master’s thesis in December 2011.


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