Acceptance of Renewable Energy Policy

Citizens‘ support of renewable electricity policies

Global warming and the unsolved issues in nuclear power technology (e.g., nuclear waste disposal, security) challenge the global community to change the energy supply and reduce energy consumption. In this context, increasing the share of renewable energy is seen as indispensable to solve the energy supply dilemma. This new orientation faces various challenges not only on a technical, but also on a political level. We argue that the governmental decision as such does not automatically induce energy turnaround. In order to make change happen, renewable energy projects and innovative policy instruments enhancing them have to be accepted and realized at the regional and local level. This is the starting point of this research project asking how effective policy change towards renewable energy can be achieved. We argue that – besides technology acceptance by the market – the acceptance of policies and instrument mixes is a crucial pre-condition for project success. Empirically, and via a comparative case study, social network analysis, and experimental survey design, we aim identifying the drivers and obstacles of alternative electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal and small scale hydro power).

Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen’s research group thereby focuses on the citizens’ level: Under which conditions do individuals accept or reject renewable energy policies and projects? We therefore depart from the idea that a new energy strategy will only be implemented if the population accepts it. This aspect weighs particularly heavy in the Swiss direct-democratic setting since most energy projects explicitly or implicitly need to pass the direct-democratic hurdle (i.e. a referendum or an objection). In the participatory context of Switzerland where the demand side and consumers are empowered by citizens’ vote, individual decision-making becomes crucial. A conjoint survey design is used to evaluate constellations under which citizens or groups of citizens accept or reject electricity policies.

This project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) within the framework of the National Research Programme "Managing Energy Consumption" (NRP 71).
More information here and here.

See also: Clau Dermont (2016). Energie-Enquete 2016 – Erste Einblicke. Online-App


  • DERMONT, Clau and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2019). “The role of policy and party information in direct-democratic campaigns”, International Journal of Public Opinion Research (forthcoming).
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle; RIEDER, Stefand and Chantal STROTZ (2019). “The politics of renewable energy production in a federalist context: The deployment of small hydropower in the Swiss cantons”, Journal of Environment and Development, Special Issue on Energy Transition and Federalism (forthcoming).
  • INGOLD, Karin, STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Lorenz KAMMERMANN (2018). „The Acceptance of Instruments in Policy Mix Situations: Citizens’ Perspective on Swiss Energy Transition“, Research Policy, Special Issue on Policy Mixes for Sustainability Transitions (forthcoming).
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle (2019). „Bad News Is Bad News: Information Effects and Citizens’ Socio-Political Acceptance of New Technologies of Electricity Transmission“, Land Use Policy 81: 531-545.
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle; INGOLD, Karin; RIEDER, Stefan; DERMONT, Clau; KAMMERMANN, Lorenz and Chantal STROTZ (2018). Akzeptanz erneuerbarer Energie. Universität Bern, Interface Politikstudien Forschung Beratung, EAWAG.
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Clau DERMONT (2018). „The unpopularity of incentive-based instruments: what improves the cost-benefit ratio?“, Public Choice 175: 37–62.
  • DERMONT, Clau, INGOLD, Karin, KAMMERMANN, Lorenz and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2017). „Bringing the policy making perspective in: A political science approach to social acceptance“, Energy Policy 108: 359-368 (Selected as “Highlighted papers in Energy Policy” by the editorial team).
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Karin INGOLD (2015).”Ist der Name schon Programm? Die GLP-Wähler und ihre grünen und freisinnigen Wurzeln“, in: Markus Freitag and Adrian Vatter (eds.), Wahlen und Wählerschaften in der Schweiz. Analysen anlässlich der Eidgenössischen Wahlen 2015. Zürich, NZZ Verlag: 217-243.