Drivers and barriers to public acceptance of future energy sources and grid expansion in the United States

Tara Sharpton, Thomas Lawrence, Margeret Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


With the coming of the 21st century in the U.S., reliance on fossil fuels, in particular coal, decreased while renewable energy sources increased their contribution to the U.S. energy portfolio. The factors behind this emerging trend toward a decreased reliance on coal are many, including economic as well as policy goals. Nationally, support is strong for the general transition to renewable energy, but this support can decline at the local level particularly if renewable energy is perceived as have negative local economic impact, impeding implementation. However, some look at this as part of a transition to a new economic power structure. Due to a lack of research on identifying public preferences for energy production in the United States, the authors conducted a national survey to identify drivers and barriers of acceptance of different types of electrical energy production. Results show that nationally, most Americans support decarbonization of the energy sector, especially if wind and solar photovoltaic facilities are located at least 5 miles (8 km) from their home. This is also supported by strong preference for an energy mix containing a larger percentage of energy produced by renewable energy sources. Environmental sustainability, economic viability, and social acceptance were of roughly equal importance in pairwise comparison of policy objectives. Results also demonstrate the importance of analyzing socio-demographic characteristic's role regarding acceptance of renewable energy sources. The information is useful for policy makers to better implement renewable energy development and improve acceptance of such technologies at the local level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109826
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Energy perceptions
  • Energy policy objectives
  • Energy scenarios
  • Public acceptance
  • Renewable energy sources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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