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New European study: Several major countries express skepticism toward green energy transition

Press release -
Andel is the largest energy and distribution company in Denmark. We are also a cooperative society and a group with subsidiaries. But size is only important when it comes to what we can achieve when we are strong, together.

According to a new European survey conducted in 26 countries, significant nations like Germany and France are falling behind in garnering citizen support for the green energy transition. Across the 26 countries, only 66% express support, raising concerns at Andel, the energy and fiber network group, which ranks among Denmark’s largest energy companies. CEO Jesper Hjulmand urges politicians, industries, and organizations to collaborate to inform and engage citizens in the green energy transition.

Nearly every second citizen in Germany and France is either negative towards the green energy transition or does not have an opinion on it. This makes the two countries some of the lowest ranked among 26 European countries. This is revealed by a new survey that clarifies Europeans’ attitude towards the green transition. The survey was conducted by the research institute Norstat on behalf of one of Denmark’s largest companies, Andel, and involved 26.000 Europeans aged between 18 and 65.

The study also explores participants’ views on the potential establishment of wind and solar parks in their neighborhoods. These opinions raise critical questions about Europe’s role in the ongoing battle against climate change, notes Jesper Hjulmand, CEO of Andel:

“It is concerning that the strongest resistance to the green energy transition is observed in the most populous European countries. Consider the recent years when the populations of the large EU countries have faced particularly high energy bills and remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Europe must establish stability and ensure a secure energy supply.”

Need for massive investments in infrastructure
The green energy transition is not simply a matter of changing energy sources; it involves an extensive construction and infrastructure project across Europe. This endeavor will span years and require substantial investments. Therefore, all European countries must bear the responsibility and actively engage citizens to ensure the success of the green transition.

“Regardless of our perspective, the green energy transition will impact numerous European countries and citizens in the future. We must unite, involve, engage, and find common ground across national borders. Extensive areas are required for the installation of numerous wind turbines and solar panels, which will mitigate our climate impact and contribute to a green future. Therefore, it is critical that there is skepticism and negative attitude among the populations of an area that together makes up more than 1/10 of Europe’s total area” says Jesper Hjulmand.

The study reveals that the primary barriers to residing near wind turbines are noise nuisance and concerns about sleep disturbance. Concerns regarding photovoltaic installations primarily revolve around potential impacts on nature and wildlife.

“Hence, we share a European responsibility – encompassing politicians, the energy industry, organizations, and others – to educate people about the significance of being neighbors to renewable energy plants. We must involve and provide genuine influence on specific projects to engage local populations,” adds Jesper Hjulmand.

Draw inspiration from smaller countries
Croatia leads as the most positively inclined European country towards the green energy transition, boasting an 80% approval rate. Following closely, Danes expressed 79% approval, while Portugal secured the third spot with 75%. Jesper Hjulmand suggests that these rankings could serve as inspiration for nations at the lower end of the list:

“I’m pleased to observe the enthusiasm for the green transition among the Danes, and this trend is noticeable in several other countries. I attribute this largely to the collaborative efforts of politicians, businesses, and citizens. It’s crucial that we collectively explore how to be supportive neighbors for the green transition in the future. Providing citizens with opportunities for meaningful dialogue and participation is key. I see this as an important learning experience and a significant potential across Europe,” notes Jesper Hjulmand.

The imperative for close cooperation and shared responsibility remains, even though there isn’t a substantial difference across age groups. Consequently, support for the transition to green energy doesn’t significantly vary between the 18-29 age group and the 30-60 age group.

Selected results from the survey:

  • Most positive towards the green energy transition: 80% Croatia, 79% Denmark, 75% Portugal.
  • Least positive towards the green energy transition: 45% Czech Republic, 51% Estonia, 54% France.
  • Most positive towards wind turbine parks in their own country: 81% Denmark, 81% Croatia, 79% Portugal, 79% Romania.
  • Least positive towards wind turbine parks in their own country: 42% France, 43% Norway, 51% Greece.
  • Most positive towards wind turbine parks near their residence: 63% Romania, 55% Slovenia, Denmark, and the UK both 51%.
  • Least positive towards wind turbine parks near their residence: 22% Norway, 23% Netherlands, Latvia, and Estonia.
  • Three primary reasons commonly cited for a negative stance towards wind turbine parks near residences: noise disturbance, impact on nature and wildlife, and sleep disturbances.
  • Norway and Greece are the two countries with the longest perceived distance before wind turbines are considered near one’s residence (up to 30 km or more), while Denmark and Slovenia have the shortest distance assessment (up to 1 km).
  • Most positive towards solar parks in their own country: 86% Croatia, 83% Lithuania, and 81% Romania.
  • Least positive towards solar parks in their own country: 44% Czech Republic, 57% France, 57% Netherlands.
  • Most positive towards solar parks near their residence: 68% Romania, 67% Croatia, 61% Ireland, 61% Hungary, and 61% Portugal.
  • Least positive towards solar parks near their residence: 31% Czech Republic, 36% Netherlands, 41% Latvia.
  • Three primary reasons commonly cited for a negative stance towards solar parks near residences: impact on nature and wildlife, glare and reflections that bother me, and spoiling my view.

Facts about the survey: The survey was conducted by Norstat Denmark using Norstat’s European online panels and those of Norstat’s partners. It is based on a minimum of 1,000 nationally representative interviews in each country, considering factors such as gender, age, and region. In several countries, more than 1,000 interviews were conducted to ensure the inclusion of individuals who do not identify strictly as male or female, as their proportion is not known in representative contexts.

National representative quotas were applied in data collection to ensure a representative composition of data in each country.

The survey forming the basis of this report was carried out in the following European countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Liechtenstein, Malta, and Cyprus are not included in the survey, as it was not possible to collect 1,000 nationally representative interviews in these three countries.

The interviews were conducted from October 25, 2023, to November 4, 2023, and the interviewees were aged 18-65. However, the sample in Croatia includes only individuals up to 60 years old.

See the survey