Clean Power nimby wind

Published on October 24th, 2011 | by Stephen Lacey

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NIMBYism Kills 45% of Clean Energy Projects

October 24th, 2011 by  

nimby wind power

Almost half of clean energy projects proposed in recent years have been delayed or abandoned due to local opposition, according to a March report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That’s a lot of development potential denied.

The causes of this opposition are diverse: Environmental concerns, worries about property values, suspicion of outside developers, and many more. Lots of these concerns are legitimate; many others come from a lack of understanding of the sector, poor communication by local officials and developers, or even from fake “astroturf” opposition funded by corporate special interests.

In my opinion, one of the biggest problems is that much of that economic potential is not going directly to citizens. If people don’t have a direct financial stake in a project, they’re more likely to oppose it. That’s why I’ve called for feed-in tariffs on the local and state level as a way to stimulate more community and individual engagement in the clean energy economy. It’s what drove community development in Germany, Denmark and other European countries — and it’s more important than ever in the U.S. given how much clean energy we need to deploy in people’s backyards if we’re going to truly address the climate crisis.

EnergyNOW had a piece worth watching on some of the barriers holding up clean energy projects in the U.S. It doesn’t touch upon how incentives like feed-in tariffs can influence public attitude, but it does look at some unique problems project developers and individuals face.

This post was originally published on Climate Progress. It has been reposted with permission.

Wind NIMBY photo via Shutterstock.


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About the Author

is an editor at Greentech Media. Formerly, he was a reporter/blogger for Climate Progress, where he wrote about clean energy policy, technologies, and finance. Before joining CP, he was an editor/producer with RenewableEnergyWorld.com. He received his B.A. in journalism from Franklin Pierce University.



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  • As a company that has clients in clean and other energy including solar, coal, offshore oil, nuclear power, and wind farms across the country we know that NIMBYism does not discriminate solely against clean energy. As the article states, lot of concerns stem from a lack of understanding of the sector and at the root people are fearful of any change.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the comment. For sure!

      I guess it’s sort of ironic when it comes to clean energy since so many people support clean energy on surveys…

      But you seem to explain it well.

  • Anonymous

    The Danes are so involved that they’ve virtually stopped onshore wind since 2002. Perhaps they’ve learned something we haven’t yet.

    • Anonymous

      From 2002 to 2010 the percentage of electricity produced by wind in Denmark grew from 14% to 22%. Installed capacity rose from 2890 Mw to 3810 MW.

      At least 416MW of that 920MW increase came from two offshore wind farms.

      I suppose one might say that the Danes learned the value of getting turbines offshore into stronger, cleaner wind.

      We’ll also get turbines offshore where they can power coastal zones. But unlike the Danes we’ve got tremendous wind resources in the center of our country and it’s a shorter haul to get power from there to our interior cities than to bring it all the way from the coast.

      • Anonymous

        Cut out 2002, i.e., since 2002: virtually new no onshore wind.

        • Anonymous

          What’s your point?

          Denmark has better offshore wind resources than onshore wind resources. A few years ago offshore wind technology reached a point to make offshore workable. When that happened Denmark started building more offshore than on shore.

          The same will likely happen along the eastern seaboard of the US. There’s not a lot of good on shore wind, but excellent offshore wind. The western US coast will largely wait for floating turbines to mature except for a few select locations.

          Lots of the interior of the NA continent does not have offshore potential. In those places we will continue to build on shore.

          Ontario could probably put some turbines out in Lake Superior, but it wouldn’t give them much ‘offshore advantage’, being on the windward shore.

          • Anonymous

            The point is that the Danish people stopped onshore development. It was their opposition that forced developers to go offshore. The opposition was based on experience (with relatively small turbines compared with those being erected now).

            The article here calls for FITs and community development as in Denmark. That doesn’t cure the ill effects of giant wind turbines in the neighborhood.

          • Anonymous

            NIMBY played a part in Denmark moving largely to offshore wind. Stronger wind at different times of day played a part as well. Moving wind offshore and away from where people live makes sense to me, but other people don’t want it offshore.

            Whatever one wishes to do will likely meet with resistance from someone.

            Want to build a new building? Someone will likely complain over using bare land. Want to tear down an existing building and turn in into bare land? You can get resistance over that as well.

            Want to build high speed rail? NIMBY. Want to tear out an old unused railroad? People will protest. (Happening right now in CA.)

            Fact is, we much change the way we generate electricity. If we do not we will screw up everybody’s life.

          • Rednest1

            And that’s a healthy dialogue that isn’t helped by knee-jerk labeling of one side as NIMBY no matter the reason for their opposition. What’s your derogatory term for developers? They would seem to more accurately merit the NIMBY term, since it’s always someone else’s backyard that they’re targeting.

          • Anonymous

            NIMBY is “Not in MY backyard”. “Put it in someone else’s backyard.”

            If someone has a different objection then they aren’t pulling a NIMBY. For example, if someone objected to wind farms because they kill birds (which they don’t) then that would not be a NIMBY, but a concerned (misinformed) environmentalist.

            I don’t have a derogatory term for developers. Some are fine people and some are greedy jerks. I try to differentiate between them.

            If you live in a non-windy place and want to build a wind farm should you build it there because it’s your backyard or should you build it somewhere the wind blows?

  • yosh

    In Ontario, we are all about FIT, and it indeed gets people involved, in a good way. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of NIMBYs crying the blues, and due to the size of turbines, it brings them in as far as the eyes that can see the turbines. Hopefully a lot less than 45% of projects are being stalled.

    • Anonymous

      yeah. hope so, too. 😀

      amazing how much trouble one or a few people can cause.

    • Anonymous

      Ontario wind power was generating at 216 MW in the last hour: 1.3% of demand. That hardly seems worth the landscapes and lives destroyed.

      • Anonymous

        And you win today’s prize for best cherry picking.

        Well, someone my ace you out if they report that Ontario’s solar panels were producing 0% of demand last night at 2AM….

        • Anonymous

          Like the report of Texas’s “record-breaking” 15.2% from wind? Where in that report is the information of how long that lasted, or what is average?

          • Anonymous

            “Electricity from wind farms in Texas climbed to 7.8 percent of the power consumed in the state last year, up from 6.2 percent in 2009, the state grid operator said in a report.

            Overall, electric use in the Texas market jumped 3.5 percent in 2010 to 319,097 gigawatt-hours for the year, boosted by extreme cold in the winter and hot weather in the summer, said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.”

            http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/11/us-utilities-ercot-idUSTRE70A7F720110111

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