Exploring the trilemma of cost-efficient, equitable and publicly acceptable onshore wind expansion planning
Onshore wind development has historically focused on cost-efficiency, which may lead to inequitable turbine distributions and public resistance due to landscape impacts. Using a multi-criteria planning approach, we show how onshore wind capacity targets can be achieved by 2050 in a cost-efficient, equitable and publicly acceptable way. For the case study of Germany, we build on the existing turbine stock and use open data on technically feasible turbine locations and scenicness of landscapes to plan the optimal expansion. The analysis shows that while the trade-off between cost-efficiency and public acceptance is rather weak with about 15% higher costs or scenicness, an equitable distribution has a large impact on these criteria. Although the onshore wind capacity per inhabitant could be distributed about 220% more equitably through the expansion, equity would severely limit planning flexibility by 2050. Our analysis assists stakeholders in resolving the onshore wind expansion trilemma.