Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Energy (Page 1 of 18)

New chapter: using surveys in critical social acceptance work on renewable energy

The cover of the new Batel & Rudolph-edited volume that contains our chapter on quant methods.

Nice to see a new chapter out this month, Strategies for Integrating Quantitative Methods into Critical Social Acceptance Research, drawing on three different surveys about renewable energy in the last few years with UAlberta colleague John Parkins, one with MES Ellen Chappell, both co-authors. The book is co-edited by Susana Batel and David Rudolph, focusing on ‘critical’ approaches to social acceptance work on renewable energy. While they first approached me to do something on climax thinking, for some reason I can’t quite remember (probably the long delay for that previous chapter to come out), I pitched something on quant methods instead. Our chapter argues that quantitative methods are not anathema to critical approaches: they bring important strengths but call for some creativity in design. The three surveys we used as exemplars covered the national scale, provincial scale (Alberta) and regional scale (Tantramar/Chignecto), and each sought to reach beyond methodological individualism and  Likert questions by engaging with place and materiality, looking relationally, exploring situated norms, forcing trade-offs, using vignettes or scenarios and enquiring about emotions. Now that I can see the impressive full line-up, I can’t wait to get back into the office where I expect my complimentary copy is waiting for me.

New paper: media analysis as SIA monitoring

Quick on the heels of Gardenio’s first thesis paper, below, his second paper is out today in Journal of Environmental ManagementUsing news coverage and community-based impact assessments to understand and track social effects using the perspectives of affected people and decisionmakers. This paper allows us to look at two of the ‘state of the art’ SIAs in recent years, for the Site C and Keeyask hydro projects. Each used a community-based approach where affected First Nations were funded to create their own impact assessment documents for consideration by the panel, yet the public discourse differs dramatically. We compared those documents with longitudinal media coverage to understand the longer term perspectives of affected people and decisionmakers in each case, a data source much more available than any formal monitoring in Canada. This allowed us to explore the potential of such datasets as suggested in this 2017 paper published about modernizing SIA.

New paper on SIA methods in Canada

Figure 1 in Gardenio da Silva's 2021 ERSS paper showing that limited SIA methods means limited SIA scope.

Figure 1 in Gardenio da Silva’s 2021 ERSS paper showing that limited SIA methods means limited SIA scope.

Hot on the heels of Gardenio da Silva’s MES thesis defense, his first paper is out this morning in Energy Research & Social ScienceDo methods used in social impact assessment adequately capture impacts? An exploration of the research-practice gap using hydroelectricity in Canada. Gardenio reviewed publicly available social impact assessments (SIAs) from 37 hydroelectricity projects in Canada to see what methods are being used to understand baseline conditions and anticipate impacts. Not surprisingly, the methods are  dominated by open houses and census-based input/output tables, the approaches that are best able to be controlled by proponents and consultants. About half used interviews, and a quarter or less more rigorous approaches like participatory mapping or surveys, but most methods were poorly described. The range of impacts vary similarly: all SIAs looked at demographic change, infrastructure impacts and job creation, but fewer than half tackled issues such as gender, equity, crime, substance abuse, etc (see above). The number of methods employed was more correlated with the size of the project (p<0.001) than how recent it is (p<0.05). The paper makes some recommendations about improvements that could be made in SIA practice, and segues nicely to Gardenio’s second paper about monitoring, which should be coming along soon.

Congratulations, Gardenio

A screensnap from Gardenio da Silva's online defense today, June 30, 2021.

A screensnap from Gardenio da Silva’s online defense today, June 30, 2021.

Congratulations to Gardenio da Silva who defended his MES thesis this morning on Social impact assessment (SIA) practice for hydroelectricity in CAnada: a review of methods and monitoring. Wonderful to have IA expert Meinhard Doelle examining the thesis from Sweden,  John Parkins ringing in early from Alberta (in the midst of this heat wave) in a committee capacity, and colleague Andrew Medeiros managing it all as chair. It was a wonderful conversation about the practice of SIA, using hydro dams as a case, in a challenging context. Gardenio’s work leveraged secondary datsets, including SIA documents and longitudinal media coverage. Both papers within the thesis are at an advanced stage of publication, which makes the process a bit easier, but there was a lot to engage on. Great to see so many MES defending comfortably within the allocated two years.

New paper: What drives support for wind development in sight of home?

Ellen Chappell’s second MES paper is out today in Journal of Environmental Policy and PlanningThose who support wind development in view of their home take responsibility for their energy use and that of others: evidence from a multi-scale analysis. This looks at predictors of support for wind development at three scales: generally/nationally, regionally (in the Chignecto area of NB/NS where the survey was implemented) and in view of respondents’ homes. The strongest predictors at that critical ‘home view’ scale was agreeing that seeing turbines remind them of the energy they use and that it has to be generated somewhere, and seeing energy as a commodity for potential export like any other. These are novel variables in the context of wind acceptability research, with interesting linkages to climax thinking, and we hope will inspire other researchers to expand the variables and scales they use.

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