Identifying and explaining public preferences for the attributes of energy technologies

Frank J. Van Rijnsoever*, Jacco C M Farla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Public preferences play an important role in the debate about which technologies to include in a future energy system. However, these public preferences for specific technologies are often backed by little knowledge and they may change in different contexts. In this study, we identify a compact set of main attributes for energy technologies (and the energy system as a whole) based on the preferences expressed by a sample of 451 respondents. The preferences for these main attributes are related to the use of different information sources, prior knowledge, environmental awareness, and socio-demographic variables. The results show that 'risk of catastrophe', 'economic security', 'private costs and discomfort', 'spatial impact', and 'price' are the five main attributes that the public discerns. Further, specific information sources can target audiences with specific preferences for the attributes of energy technologies. Prior knowledge (knowing) about energy technologies can induce further the use of information sources, while environmental awareness (caring) promotes making trade-offs between attributes. Based on this research, policymakers can design better strategies to communicate information to the public about technological options and increase awareness about the necessity of changes to the energy system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages12
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Issue numberMarch 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Attributes
  • Energy technology
  • Environmental awareness
  • Public preferences
  • Social acceptance
  • Use of information sources


Dive into the research topics of 'Identifying and explaining public preferences for the attributes of energy technologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this