Estonian residents have an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards wind farms, and popular support is highest for the establishment of offshore wind farms, a Kantar Emor survey on wind energy commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications indicates.

“It is good to see that people in Estonia are positive about wind farms, because that is where we see the greatest potential for renewable electricity production and security of supply in the future,” Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said in a press release on Tuesday.

The Kantar Emor survey reveals that 72 percent of respondents support the construction of offshore wind farms and 62 percent support the construction of onshore wind farms. Younger people tend to support the wider deployment of wind farms much more than average, with 81 percent of those aged 15-34 in favor of offshore and 80 percent of onshore wind farms. In the age group 25-34, the respective ratios are 84 percent and 77 percent.

The survey showed that aversion to projects arises primarily out of ignorance and that people’s fears are mostly based on hearsay. Besides, 49 percent of respondents felt that the opinion of local residents is not taken into account or rather not sufficiently taken into account when decisions about wind farms are made. On the other hand, only 24 percent say that the opinion of locals has been listened to sufficiently.

Residents’ attitudes are also affected by their own degree of trust in their local government.

The minister described the inclusion process as very important in such large development projects.

“The developer and the locals need to come to an agreement, and there needs to be an open discussion about everything that comes with living near a wind farm. For example, it is very helpful if the developer provides local residents with a concrete, well thought-out plan early on, showing the exact location of the wind farm and its impacts,” the minister said, adding that local people also need clarity about the benefits arising from wind farms.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is currently developing the necessary legislative changes with a view to bringing the benefits of wind farms closer to local communities. Therefore, the survey also asked citizens which instrument of local benefits seems reasonable to them.

According to 77 percent of respondents, the most sensible solution would be financial compensation to the municipality, a part of which would be paid out to residents.

“The citizens’ opinion gave us confidence that we are moving in the right direction with the development of local benefits,” said Aas.

The survey also revealed that Estonian residents prefer to get energy from renewable sources. Of the respondents, 84 percent prefer or rather prefer solar energy, 80 percent prefer hydro power, 79 percent prefer wind energy, 76 percent prefer geothermal energy, 53 percent prefer biomass, 45 percent prefer nuclear energy and 42 percent prefer hydrogen.

The survey was conducted by interviewing a standard sample of 1,351 people, and 21 focus group interviews were also carried out. The sample of the attitude survey consisted of Estonian residents aged 15-84.