Physiological and behavioral reactions to renewable energy systems in various landscape types

R. Spielhofer*, T. Thrash, U. Wissen Hayek, A. Grêt-Regamey, B. Salak, J. Grübel, V. R. Schinazi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


Renewable energy systems (RES) can impact landscape aesthetics and influence the public's perception of the landscape and their acceptance of large infrastructure projects. Perceptual processes have consequences for both physiological and behavioral reactions to visual landscape changes and have not been systematically assessed in the context of RES. In this paper, we measured participants' physiological (electrodermal activity) and behavioral (i.e., landscape preferences) responses to landscapes with different amounts of RES. The visual stimuli were composed of either a low or high amount of wind turbines and photovoltaic systems in seven different landscape types. Participants were asked to choose their preferred landscape image from pairs of sequentially presented images while we recorded their electrodermal activity. The results revealed that participants were significantly more physiologically aroused while viewing landscapes with high RES compared to landscapes with low RES. We also found that the participants significantly preferred landscapes with low RES to landscapes with high RES and that this effect was larger for some landscapes than others. The results also revealed significant differences in preferences among landscape types. Specifically, participants tended to prefer the more natural landscapes to the more urban landscapes. A systematic analysis of the visual features of these stimuli revealed a positive correlation between physiological arousal and the visual impact of photovoltaic systems. Overall, we conclude that both physiology and behavior can be relevant for studies of landscape perception and that these insights may inform planners and policy makers in the implementation of landscape changes related to RES.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110410
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Early online date28 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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