Landscape impacts of renewable energy production

Project lead

Marcel Hunziker

Project staff

Felix Kienast

Project duration

2014 - 2033


A declared goal of Swiss policy is to achieve the energy turnaround in the near future, in particular by supporting renewable-energy production. However, some of the renewable energy-production forms, as for example large wind turbines or solar panels, are highly "scenically exposed" and will have perceivable landscape impacts. The project aims to get insight into the populations attitudes towards the impacts of renewable energy on the landscape. Particularly the role of the connotations attached to the respective landscape changes will be considered.

As decided by the Swiss Federal council and the Parliament in 2011, Switzerland will gradually withdraw from nuclear energy. Therefore the Swiss energy system needs to be restructured. Especially renewable-energy production will be promoted. The installation of new renewable-energy production sites and the development of existing ones will have perceivable impacts on the landscape in Switzerland, as some of the renewable energy-production forms are highly "scenically exposed", e.g.windturbines. The perception of these landscape impacts could influence the public opinion on the renewable-energy policy and lead to acceptance problems within the population. Finally, this could jeopardize the implementation of the energy turnaround as such.

However, so far, the attitudes of the population towards the impact of renewable energies on the landscape are not known. Particularly unknown are the connotations that are attached by the population to the different landscape elements of renewable energy. Therefore the project aims to gain deep and broad knowledge about the attitudes of the population towards the perceivable landscape impacts of various forms of renewable energy production, storage and transmission.

Research questions that shall be answered are:

  • What are the connotations that are attached by the population to the different landscape elements of renewable energy?
  • Are they, for example, a negative symbol as (yet another) „sign of continued alienation of humans from nature“? Or do they (potentially) represent a „symbol of progress towards a sustainable society“?


Two research parts will be conducted. In the first part problem-centered will be conducted in particular study areas. The qualitative data gathered in this part will form the basis for constructing a standardized questionnaire. In the second part a survey using a standardized questionnaire including visualisations of scenarios of „energy-induced“ landscape changes will be conducted. Data will collected by means of a nation-wide representative internet-panel survey.