Accepted paper:

Nuancing NIMBYism: examining perspectives on the practice of community engagement in energy projects


Elisabeth van de Grift (Delft University of Technology)
Shannon Spruit (Delft University of Technology)
Eefje Cuppen (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Energy projects often encounter opposition. In this paper we address encounters of professionals working on community engagement in such projects. We used Q methodology to uncover the diversity of perspectives of this group on their own practice as intermediary between different actors.

Paper long abstract:

The planning and implementation of energy technologies is often challenged by public controversy and local opposition surrounding new projects. The current literature on controversial energy projects shows a strong focus on public stakeholders. However, literature addressing actors involved with project development is quite scarce. Therefore this paper focusses on professionals in the energy sector who are tasked with community engagement. This professional community consists, amongst others, of consultants, project developers and government employees.

Such actors find themselves at multiple intersections involving both inter- and intra-organisational encounters: they are tasked with the implementation of the community engagement policy of the organisation they represent, focussing on communities within a local energy landscape they are proposing changes to. This also involves conveying input from communities to internal organisational stakeholders. As such, we use the concept of front-line workers (Durose 2009) to work towards a deeper understanding of this group and their practice navigating encounters on these multiple-way streets.

In this paper we analyse the diversity of perspectives front-line workers have regarding their own practice. We used Q methodology to discern perspectives amongst front-line workers in the Dutch energy sector. The Q study, based on ethnographic data from multiple case studies, consists of 30 interviews with front-line workers working on energy technologies and related infrastructure. In the light of this finer grained understanding of encounters in energy projects between different types of actors, we also discuss how these insights can contribute to more responsible decision-making in such projects.

panel A11
Encountering energy in systems and everyday spaces