New research investigates the role of conspiracy beliefs in shaping opposition to wind farms

21 Dec 2022

Reaching net-zero targets requires massive increases in wind energy production, but efforts to build wind farms can meet stern local opposition.

Professor Matthew Hornsey

A new study from The University of Queensland and IWM Institut has discovered that wind farms face moderate to strong opposition from conspiracy beliefs, which ends up being the significant hurdle to their continued establishment.

UQ Business School Professor Matthew Hornsey worked with IWM Institut researchers in Germany to publish the findings in Nature Energy and notes that people are positive about wind energy as a concept, but when it comes to actually establishing wind farms in local communities, there has been substantial resistance, to the point where many proposals have been killed off. 

In some cases, resistance has been amplified by organised campaigns of disinformation (for example, about negative health consequences of wind farms). These pockets of resistance might be early red flags for what other nations may soon experience once wind farms become a more visible and salient part of people’s lived experiences.

Just as nations will need to massively ramp up investment in wind farms to meet renewable energy targets, so too does the scientific community need to ramp up its ability to anticipate (and defuse) factors that lead to wind farm resistance.

Read more

Find out how the Business School partners with industry, government and industry to create local and global change.