Enhancing Public Engagement on Offshore Wind Energy Using “Genius loci”: A Case Study from the Lake Michigan Coast

By Erik Nordman, Daniel O'Keefe and Erika Arndt.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 27, 2016 $US5.00

We describe a novel approach to public engagement with offshore wind energy based on “genius loci” (“spirit of a place”). North America has only one offshore wind farm but they could be viable in the Great Lakes. Cultural ties between coastal Michigan, USA, and the Netherlands offered opportunities to learn from the Dutch offshore wind experience. Residents from a Lake Michigan coastal region with Dutch heritage videoconferenced with a Netherlands-based tourism specialist regarding the Egmond aan Zee offshore wind farm. Experts from public agencies and the Coast Guard also made presentations about potential regulation of offshore wind energy development. Important differences and similarities between the regions emerged, including the clustering of technological expertise, tourism effects, and perspectives on working seascapes. Michigan has more private coastal property than the Netherlands, which has implications for the visual/aesthetic impact. About 80% of seminar participants agreed that the Netherlands’ experience with offshore wind was applicable to coastal Michigan suggesting the place-based forum grounded in “genius loci” may have enhanced the public engagement efforts.

Keywords: Genius loci, Great Lakes, Michigan, Netherlands, Egmond aan Zee, Offshore Wind Energy, Place-based Engagement, Public Perceptions

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 12, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.19-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 27, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 963.032KB)).

Dr. Erik Nordman

Associate Professor, Natural Resources Management Program, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, USA

Dr. Daniel O'Keefe

Extension Educator, Michigan Sea Grant, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Erika Arndt

Research Assistant, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, USA