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Public values for managing wind energy intermittency and local benefits: Preliminary results

A section in our survey (carried out online between Aug and Nov 2020 with 1107 members of the Irish public) contained a choice experiment to establish public values and preferences for wind energy intermittency solutions and local benefit provision.

This choice experiment included factors or attributes which could help deal with wind energy intermittency such as trade (importing and exporting wind electricity), battery storage of excess wind energy in Ireland and price alerts to notify consumers of the cheapest times to use electricity.

The choice experiment also included attributes to elicit public preferences for local benefits in wind energy development areas such as local authority payments, a green fund (fund to finance environmental improvements for those living within 2Km) and a community representative to engage with and provide information to local residents. These local benefits would not necessarily be received by survey respondents, but could be provided to those in wind energy development areas.

Respondents were offered hypothetical discounts in their annual electricity bill and asked to select the option for wind energy management that they most preferred, from three options which included a "status quo" option of no new wind farm development.

The trade offs made between each attribute and the electricity discount can be used to measure public preferences for intermittency management and local benefit provision.

These results were calculated using a model called a Multinomial Logit Model, indicated below. The second column indicates the utility that respondents gain from each attribute. As these are all positive and highly significant (***) with the exception of the status quo, this suggests that the public highly value intermittency management solutions and local benefits. The choice experiment was presented as a "Willing to Accept" scenario in that respondents were asked to accept (not pay) an amount in an electricity discount, the third column presents their willingness to accept amount for each attribute. These are negative indicating the amount of discount respondents are willing to give up to gain each attribute.

The most preferred intermittency solution according to the amount of discount they are willing to forego is trade. The most preferred local benefit is a local green fund; in fact this is the highest value attribute of all according to the WTA amounts.

These initial results suggest that the Irish public have strong preferences for intermittency management for wind energy and for the provision of local benefits in development areas, even if they are not the recipient of these benefits.


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