27 March 2020 | Arthur Hinsch, Giorgia Rambelli, Julia Kittel

Achieving Socially Inclusive Wind Energy across Government Levels

This blog is a short version of the 4th WinWind Policy Brief.


By June 2021, EU Member States are required to put in place appropriate enabling frameworks for a more socially inclusive energy transition. The fulfillment of these obligations will not only depend heavily on concerted action, between market actors and the public sector, but most of all on an effective interplay between the different government levels.


Key Lessons

The local acceptance of wind energy projects always depends on the local context. What influences acceptance differs from country to country, region to region and community to community? There is no one solution guaranteeing social community acceptance, however, there are a number of driverswhich are applicable across the board which help to enhance it. Acceptance can be promoted by transparent, open and fair planning processes as well as by sharing the benefits of the projects with local communities and citizens in a fair and open manner. Positive impacts for the local economy and creation of local added value through tax revenues, local contracting, local jobs and community funds are instrumental measures to bolster local acceptance.WinWind has developed a set of principles & criteria for fair and socially inclusive wind energy. These should serve as guidance for commercial developers and operators of wind energy plants, and might be integrated into existing policy support frameworks by policy makers on a “pick & choose” basis.


The European Comission should

  • Help to identify and disseminate best practices of effective enabling frameworks for Renewable Energy Communities (RECs), the participation of local governments and encourage European best practice transfers. The best practice transfer guide developed in the frame of WinWind can serve as a guidance.
  • Promote the establishment of national and regional advisory organisations providing neutral information to local communities, local governmentsand citizens.
  • Strengthen the social dimension of Environmental Impact Assessments and provide guidance to Member States on how to practically assess impacts.
  • Encourage the development of RECs via the InvestEU program, the European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund as well as Horizon Europe.
  • Strengthen bottom-up approaches like the Community-led Local Development (CLLD)/LEADER initiatives and promote thedevelopment of renewable energy communitiesas well as informal participation/dialogue formats in the context of renewable energy developments.


Policy Makers in EU Member States should:

  • Provide financial incentives for renewable energy communities and take their specificities into accountwhen developing support schemes. This should also entail exempting smaller community-led projects from auction schemes and to reduce red-tape such projects face.
  • Make sure that communities hosting wind farms can use the electricity from the wind farms and/or benefit from special electricity prices or price discounts.
  • Develop national criteria for fairwind energy and consider the development of national labels for fair wind energy. The WinWind principles & criteria can serve as a guidance in this regard.
  • Oblige wind farm developers and owners to undertake community information and engagement throughout all stages of deployment. This should also be done in case repowering takes place.
  • Require developers to enable financial participation of host communities and to offer benefit sharing mechanisms in cooperation with the local communities.
  • Exclude areas with high biodiversity value from the development of wind farms (e.g. nature reserves, national parks, protected biotopes). Where Natura 2000sites are not excluded, a careful case-by-case assessment should be performed.
  • Legally allow local governments to acquire shares in community wind farms.


Local Policy Makers should:

  • Consider choosing to own a certain share in renewable energy communities with citizens also holding shares.
  • Integrate community-led wind energy measures and projects into local plans and target.
  • Set up civic associations, or local foundations in order to make the local community benefit from wind farms.
  • consider linking the lease of publicly owned land to certain requirements concerning procedural or financial participation of local communities/citizens. The WinWind principles & criteria might serve useful here as well.
  • Ensure transparent provision and dissemination of information from the very beginning of the project together with project developers as well as ensuring effective formal and informal participation of citizens in planning, siting and permitting procedures.



In several regions across Europe, wind energy deployment is facing a stalemate due to a lack of local acceptance. This is despite aprovenoverly positive attitude of Europe’s citizens towards wind energy. A key finding of the WinWind project is that no actor can increase wind energy uptake independently. Equally, policy action at the different government levels will not result in more acceptance if policies are not geared towards enabling socially inclusive projects on the local level. Transposition of the revised Renewable Energy Directive should be used as a chance to create a multi-level and multi-stakeholder enabling framework for onshore wind energy. Citizens’ protests and concerns manifest themselves atthe local level. Therefore, as long as European and national policies for wind energy are not geared towards enabling inclusive planning and participatoryprocedures at the local level, onshore wind energy will not be developed at the required scale and speed.The spread of misinformation regarding wind energy should also be addressed at all levels through transparent information campaigns. Now is the time for genuine socially inclusive wind energy. Only with effective policy action, acrossgovernment levels,can onshore wind energy contribute to Member States’ renewable energy targets while at the same time providing value to local communities.