What is the public’s perception of hydropower?


TUM interviewing team in Landshut, Germany (picture: Holger Gerdes)


FIThydro examines innovative mitigation measures for hydropower plants. In order to increase the acceptance of such plants and their mitigation measures, local opinions and socio-economic effects must be taken into consideration. We use the Q-methodology to identify the spectrum of opinions on the presence and modernization of small, run-of-the-river (ROR) hydropower plants in Europe.

The method requires a set of opinion statements, which reflect the range of views on hydropower. We developed an initial list by reviewing scientific literature and media sources from all regions. Then, experts at the each stakeholder workshop validated the statements for their translation and conceptual accuracy. Based on this validation exercise, we determined that 25 statements represent the range of attitudes.

What do you think of hydropower in your region? Survey participants in Landshut, Germany (pictures: Holger Gerdes)

To understand local attitudes toward hydropower, we conducted interviews in public spaces (e.g. inner city shopping centers) in towns near ROR plants with mitigation measures. These sites include Germany (Landshut), Portugal (Vila Real), France (Toulouse and Pamiers) and Sweden (Örnsköldsvik). The research has been carried out by Ecologic Institute and the Technical University of Munich in Germany, Hidroerg and the Instituto Superior Técnico in Portugal, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique in France, and SINTEF in Sweden.

The interview is conducted in three parts. First, we collect demographic information (age, educational status, knowledge of hydropower). Second, the participant reads and sorts the opinion statements. Third, we ask the participant to explain their reasoning for their opinions. This information will allow us to provide qualitative insight on points of consensus and controversy across the case studies.

The Portuguese interviewing team, munincipality Vila Real, Portugal

Terese Rutkowski (TUM)