Public views about the world's largest proposed solar farm in remote Australia

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Abstract

The world's largest solar farm is planned for a remote part of northern Australia. Construction of the 12,000 ha of solar arrays will create local jobs but may have substantial environmental and social impacts. Despite its unprecedented size, little is known about societal views of the farm, potentially undermining its public acceptance. Using a split sampling procedure, we surveyed emotions and other views of the solar farm among residents of the same jurisdiction, some of whom may benefit economically (n = 124), and the broader public across the rest of Australia (n = 2099). Most people (70%) felt positive about the farm with 24% feeling proud and 46% of respondents expressing hope. Those living relatively close to the proposed solar farm held the strongest positive views. The strong support and high levels of trust in the developer contrasts strongly with the often vehement opposition to wind farms. Nevertheless, approximately a third of respondents were concerned that, although remote, the solar farm could detract from the region's environment as being inappropriate for the remote landscape, with Indigenous respondents being particularly cautious. The results can be used for community consultations and contribute to understanding of the public acceptance of solar farms, which has to date been dominated by research on wind energy projects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114197
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume191
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2024

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