Deep geothermal energy has been recognised as an important contributor to future energy demand. However, the development of renewable energy technologies has seen public disagreement hindering the implementation of such technologies. The present study investigated social dimensions underlying public acceptance of deep geothermal energy. Adopting a social identity approach, the present research consisted of four studies. The first was a qualitative study which aimed to understand which socio-psychological dimensions were relevant in the acceptance of the first deep geothermal energy plant in Cornwall, UK. Based on this study and existing theory, a theoretical framework was developed which identified two possible pathways. The first pathway highlighted the relevance of investigating normative and collective efficacy beliefs in the acceptance of large-scale energy technologies. The second pathway pointed out the relevance of investigating perceived identity support and threat from the technology, autonomy need, fairness perception, and risk perception. Based on these pathways, the other three studies tested a series of pre-registered hypotheses using correlational designs via structural equation modelling. Overall, results demonstrated the importance of considering the two pathways, specifically the role of normative and collective efficacy beliefs, procedural fairness, collective self-determined motivations, and perceived group-level identity support and threat associated with deep geothermal energy. Considering collective processes through a social identity lens contributed to a better understanding of the key drivers underlying both social acceptance and collective action intentions regarding sustainable energy technologies and might be a fruitful source of public engagement.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.