Matrix of Stakeholders

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Based on the foregoing discussion we can now start to build up a matrix for stakeholders based on their type and effect. An example is placed in each cell of Table 4.1.

Table 4.1 Forming a matrix of stakeholder type versus effect, with an example for each intersection

Economic direct Economic indirect Environmental Social impacts

Table 4.1 Forming a matrix of stakeholder type versus effect, with an example for each intersection

Economic direct Economic indirect Environmental Social impacts





Employees in industry Project contractors

Energy consumers Populations local to projects

Bird watchers

Local heritage enthusiasts



Energy retailers


Tourism companies


Tourist organizations


National environment groups

Hiking groups


Local councils

Ministry of regional development

Environment ministries and agencies

Heritage, cultural and conservation agencies

Populating the stakeholder matrix

Now that we have the framework, the next job is to populate it. There are three useful ways to consider identifying stakeholders: going from first principles; using the media; and looking for self-identifying stakeholders.

Every country, region and technology will have its own particular stakeholders and I cannot hope to capture them all here. Nevertheless, it is often better to identify stakeholders before they identify themselves, because early engagement can avert undue concern and help create allies rather than enemies. So the more specific we can be about potential stakeholders here the better.

Stakeholders from first principles - The scope of impact of renewable energy projects

With a field that can be as open-ended as impacts, it is useful to start from first principles. It is a simple — but extended — exercise in stepping through what would happen if a renewable energy industry developed.

This is similar to going through the process of an environmental impacts assessment or a socio-economic impacts analysis. Indeed it may prove very useful to acquire such reports whether produced locally or from overseas to examine the impacts identified. If projects are built, will there be jobs created and will other industries lose jobs? If so, unions will be stakeholders. Are animals saved by protecting the climate? If so ecological groups are stakeholders. Will wind farms be noisy or will biomass plants cause traffic jams? If so, local residents will be stakeholders. Will the economy be boosted or brought to its knees? The government is always a stakeholder.

It is perhaps useful to keep in mind three levels of effect.


This category covers the physical environment affected by the project, the social/ shared spaces such as to scenic views or walking paths, and the local communities who will host projects, provide employees, or who may have concerns about their property values.


Some regions are endowed with particular renewable sources and may therefore see multiple projects moving into the area, with cumulative effects. These can be positive such as the creation of manufacturing capacity and significant employment, or potentially negative due to over-concentration or unplanned development.


Many effects only accrue at a national or even international level. Cost impacts may be distributed across all national consumers or taxpayers. The emissions savings will benefit people all over the world.

Figure 4.2 The effects of renewable energy development can be considered local, regional and total and so, therefore, can the stakeholders

Using the media to identify stakeholders

As opposed to considering the various impacts as a method to identify areas of stakeholder concern, it can be very enlightening to look at the issues that stakeholders themselves identify through media reportage.

This also provides industry players with insight into how they are being perceived. The actions a set of stakeholders take with respect to renewable energy will not be based on fact per se but rather on their understanding of that industry, project or technology. The best case is when their perception is close to fact, however, this is rare since few stakeholders become renewable energy experts. Instead, they will form their opinions from information they are exposed to, and this may not always be correct information.

The key sources of independent information are considered in most countries to be the press, radio and television. In fact this content may reflect limited access to expertise or even access to incorrect information, and may also be influenced by sensationalism.

Even though it may be distorted, media analysis can help to identify the vocal stakeholder groups. These are definitely people that the industry needs to engage and be seen to engage by those still considering the issues. It can also help to identify the groups that are remaining silent.

The very simple media analysis used in Figure 4.3 highlights the difference between impacts and perceived impacts. Media monitoring companies can provide such analysis reports for a fee, allowing an independent view of how an industry or technology is being conveyed to the public.

Figure 4.3 is an analysis of print media coverage of wind power issues in Australia from early 2000 through to mid-2002. The articles covered local, regional and national print media as compiled by the company Media Monitors.

There are some caveats on how much to infer from such an exercise. First, if the coverage is cited as discussing an objection it does not imply either a positive

Source: Media Monitors

Figure 4.3 The rising percentage of print media coverage of wind power 'concerning objection'

Source: Media Monitors

Figure 4.3 The rising percentage of print media coverage of wind power 'concerning objection'

or negative slant to a renewable project within the article; it merely identifies that the topic of stakeholder objection arose within the article. (This was the case with the coverage analysed in Figure 4.3.)

Second, we should note that the effect of increasing coverage of objection shown in Figure 4.3 may also reflect the natural evolution of coverage. For example, a new and fairly conflict-free wind farm development may only be newsworthy once or twice, whereas a conflict will have much greater longevity as news.

Third and finally, many of the articles about renewable development will be from small, local media outlets focused on local developments, rather than metropolitan media. Thus there will be detailed coverage of planning proceedings, including 'balanced' representation of proponents and any objectors.

It is quite interesting to see that the dominant stakeholder issue area in Figure 4.4, landscape, was of far greater concern than actual economic, physical or environmental impacts. Also interesting is that the most direct impact via property values carries only 10 per cent of that interest. For local residents the two impacts are closely related, although this connection is not apparent from the numbers in Figure 4.4. It is possible that stakeholders are uncomfortable making objections in the social arena based on issues of personal self-interest, such as a drop in property value, especially when the advantages of sustainable energy are known to the wider community.

Interestingly, the prominence of issues like noise, birds and fauna — issues which the wind industry would largely consider to have been resolved — indicates a communication gap between industry and local communities.

Visual & Tourism & Birds Landscape Local Economy

Flora/Fauna/ Noise Environment

Heritage Property Values

Source: Mallon (2002a)

Figure 4.4 Seven major stakeholder issue areas identified for wind power: number of references in Australian print media from 2000 to 2002

Looking for self-identifying stakeholders

Many stakeholders will put up their hand to proclaim themselves given the chance. The media method described above catches some of these but there are also other ways in which stakeholders can be found. Two important avenues are decision-forming processes and decision-influencing processes.

Decision-forming processes

Decision-forming processes include renewable policy discussions or consultations, from planning applications for renewable facilities through to government reviews of legislation. Those putting resources aside to participate are likely to see themselves as stakeholders or potential stakeholders. For example, the Australian Mandatory Renewable Energy Target review received 160 technical submissions and more than 5000 non-technical submissions. Such exercises provide a 'who's who' of supporters and opponents of renewable energy. Less politicized stakeholders such as conservation groups or transport agencies will identify themselves and their concerns through planning applications or when regional planning guidelines are being developed.

Decision-influencing processes

Decision-influencing processes may be generated though pro-renewable energy campaigns which reach out to engage potential stakeholder organizations. That does not mean that one must run a high-profile campaign to discover the stakeholders. However, some of us have done this before and the resultant list of stakeholders may come in handy for this chapter!

Who represents absent stakeholders?

Environmental, social and economic stakeholders can include the very local to those on the other side of the world. The biosphere is impacted by climate change but who is its guardian? People suffering from floods, heat waves or drought are stakeholders, but how are they represented? In order to have complete representation it is important that there be a way to represent absent stakeholders. In practice this falls to: (a) inter-governmental agreements which are translated into domestic law; and (b) the advocacy of non-governmental organizations.

If global and national environmental issues are being addressed by international and national conventions and legislation, we can include the appropriate government agencies responsible for compliance as suitable government stakeholders.

However, the role of government agencies as stakeholders goes beyond that of policing legislation; it is also one of strategic overview and inter-agency communication. If, for instance, repeated rejection of planning for renewable energy projects were to occur — as has happened in the UK — the government's national targets for renewable energy might remain undelivered, requiring the various agencies to review their policies and interactions.

If the absence of some legislation results in interests being overlooked, the breach will often be filled by NGOs. Thus international environmental groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and their national equivalents may be suitable stakeholders to represent the interests of the wider environment, biodiversity and absent communities. Clearly the influence of such stakeholders is moral and ethical and unfortunately far less binding than specific legislation.

Bringing the results together

No single method will discover all stakeholders. Some groups — like farmers — will not realize they are stakeholders until the industry is up and running, and will therefore remain silent throughout consultations. Others, who may in reality not be impacted at all, could decide that they might be, and become a major voice of opposition.

The matrix in Table 4.2 could serve as a good first cut at the key stakeholders in the renewable energy development debate in many countries.

Table 4.2 A 'type and impact' matrix of renewable energy stakeholders c\ R

tq a rgy i

i ti

Economic direct impacts

Economic indirect impacts

Environmental impacts

Social impacts


Employees in industry or supplier Project contractors Site holders



Energy consumers Populations local to projects

Renewable energy manufacturers Supplier industries Project developers Fuel suppliers Financiers Other1

Industry associations representing any of above

Tourist organizations Regional business/development organizations

Local councils Industry development agencies Regional development agencies State and regional tourism bodies Departments of infrastructure, etc. Local authorities Academic centres

Energy consumers Energy retailers Competing energy suppliers Competing GHG mitigation suppliers Groups sensitive to GHG financial impacts: insurers, farming, tourism, forestry

Associations representing any of the above Unions

Ministries and agencies responsible for: economics, employment, regional development Academic centres

People affected by climate change

Coastal communities Populations sensitive to extreme weather People affected by air quality, radiotoxic emissions, etc. People concerned about renewable energy impacts on flora and fauna.

National significance: Farmers

People concerned with social impacts such as landscape, transport

Local residents or visitors

International environment groups National environmental groups Ecology and conservation groups National specialist organizations (birds, flora, fauna)

Environment ministries and agencies Sustainability agencies Local authorities Kyoto Protocol (or other) compliance agencies Green Party

Landscape organizations Hiking groups State or national heritage societies

Planning authorities Heritage, cultural and conservation agencies Local authority

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