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Germany, Ireland more open than U.S. to renewable energy close to homes

Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 20th July

People in Germany and Ireland are more willing to accept renewable energy sites closer to their homes than their U.S. counterparts, but all three wanted carbon-based energy sites farther away and favored decarbonization overall, a new study found.

The new study, published Monday in The Energy Journal, examined people's preferences for various energy technologies across the United States, Ireland and Germany amid many countries planning to decarbonize their energy systems by expanding renewable energy sources.

The 4,500 survey respondents in total, across the three countries, were asked about five energy sources, including the renewable sources, such as wind turbines and solar power technology, as well as more traditional electrical power sources such as biomass, coal or natural gas.

In general, respondents in all three countries were more in favor of having renewable energy sources located close to their homes than more traditional sources.

While Americans favored having renewable energy sources close to their homes over traditional energy sources, they still weren't as open to having renewable energy sources close to their homes as Irish and German people, the study found.

German people were the most open to renewable sources, according to the survey, with 74% open to solar infrastructure less than a mile from their homes, compared to 42% of Irish respondents and 24% of American people.

"People in Germany and Ireland were more open to having renewable energy technologies closer to where they lived, perhaps because they have less space than in the U.S.," University of Georgia researcher and study author Thomas Lawrence told UGA Today.

"In the U.S., I was happily surprised to see overall support for a transition of power sources -- especially to solar and wind -- in the electrical grid, and it was stronger than I would have guessed," Lawrence said.

Lawrence added that German people's greater acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure was not a surprise.

"Germany has been leading the charge in transition away from carbon-based energy sources," he said. "Over 30% of their power right now is through wind or solar. People there are used to seeing wind farms and solar panels on roof tops."

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