Noreen Brennan

B.A., H.Dip., M.A.

PhD student NUI Galway


Noreen Brennan began her PhD research with NUI Galway in 2012. She has obtained a B.A. (Economic and Social Studies), a H.Dip. (Economic Science), and an M.A. (Environmental Economics), all from NUI Galway. She has worked with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) during her Masters on a bioenergy analysis model. Her research and area of interest lies primarily in the field of renewable energy.

An economic analysis of renewable electricity generation from community wind farms in Ireland

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the Irish public is in favour of wind farm development, there has been much opposition to development in rural areas by the local community. This vocal opposition can often deny planning permission to developers. This work outlines the issue of “community” involvement in development and the various forms this can take. The key externalities or attributes associated with wind farm development are discussed as well as the main arguments against development.

This research aims to resolve several policy issues—while studies have shown greater support for wind farm projects with community involvement, there is no study that indicates which type of community project or what level of community involvement is optimal. Is there a greater preference for a “pure” community project, taking into account the difficulties in establishing such an enterprise, or would the public and local community prefer more of a co-operative structure that spreads the establishment burden but limits the beneficiaries? Which is more important, the “process” (who owns and runs it) or the “outcome” (who the benefits go to)?  Do the public or local community in Ireland see a place for co-operation with the private companies or government?

Secondly, there has been no research involving the measurement of externalities of wind farm development in Ireland. There has been no research on the impact of community ownership or influence on the acceptance of a project, although recent case studies show greater local support for projects with community ownership. This work aims to resolve this knowledge gap.

It is hoped that this study will add to the existing literature on wind farm externalities, and will provide some key information from an Irish perspective. By adding unique attributes in a choice modelling framework, it will provide an important development on the measurement of wind farm externalities as a whole.

Keywords attitudes, choice modelling, community, externalities, wind energy


PhD research funding

  • HEA (PRTLI) & ERDF Earth and natural sciences doctoral studies programme

Head of Economics

Prof Alan Ahearne

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