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Environmental activism and vertical‐axis wind turbine preferences in California

August 2019
John O. Dabiri
Wind Energy


Wind energy is widely recognized as a key element of the worldwide effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions. As compared with the general population, environmental activists have a much higher level of knowledge, interest, and capacity to affect the final outcome of a proposed wind turbine facility. To explore how their opinions on wind energy, particularly on vertical‐axis wind turbines, differ from the general public, we administered the same online experimental survey to a general population sample of adult Californians and to a self‐selected sample of online energy and environmen- tal activists. We find that support for wind energy increases with the degree of envi- ronmental activism and engagement. The general public prefers vertical‐axis wind turbines in open spaces, away from one's residence. Location and price sensitivity, however, are weaker among activists. Among activists, attitudes about specific vertical‐axis wind turbine technologies are more crystalized and less susceptible to the information effects except on the topic of minimizing bird deaths.


  • Attitudes toward wind energy differ among environmental activists and general public.

  • General public prefers vertical‐axis wind turbines (VAWTs) in open space, further from one's residence.

  • Location and price sensitivity are weaker among activists.

  • The potential of minimizing bird deaths increases support for VAWTs.