The international research institute IIASA was observing the participatory process within BESTGRID as well as analysing stakeholders’ feedback and providing inputs to the action plans of grid operators. Based on the review of historical cases of infrastructure siting in developed countries IIASA identified factors, which had positive impacts on social acceptance of the projects and developed recommendations for BESTGRID’s grid operators based on these results.
Moreover, IIASA developed a methodological protocol and a data collection protocol to map the BESTGRID activities into a common framework of actions and guiding principles. This framework was necessary for the comparison of different pilot projects and the identification of the most successful activities to address stakeholders’ concerns. In cooperation with the grid operators responsible for the respective pilot project, IIASA collected and analysed data according to three research goals: to understand major concerns of organised stakeholders and lay people, to understand the success of actions to address these concerns and to map these actions according to the level of participation. The results allowed making following conclusions:
- Concerns about the need of the project in light of perceived alternatives, such as decentralised generation, energy efficiency and others were the most frequently expressed concerns. At the same time, concerns about benefits and compensation were expressed least frequently
- Stakeholders appreciated the BESTGRID process a lot and would like to see its continuation. The majority of stakeholders were satisfied with the quality of information events and with the possibility to provide feedback
- Reactions of stakeholders to BESTGRID information events varied significantly. It seams that men at the age over 45 who own private houses and live in the vicinity of the projects of less then 1 km to the planned infrastructure are most actively participating in public information events. At the same time, young people are questioning the need of the project, but they are not searching actively for information and are visiting information events less frequently
- Since they addressed the most important concern, actions to provide information about the need of the project were most successful. Stakeholders and inhabitants also appreciated the opportunity for direct cooperation with employees of TSOs as well as the improved quality of information materials, which included visualisations and detailed maps