Wind turbines installed nearby house

Overcoming NIMBY

How a large developer overcame NIMBY

Developers of renewable energy projects have likely encountered the difficult obstacle course of local opposition against renewable projects. Termed NIMBY (Not in my back yard), this phenomenon, while not new, continues to plague efforts worldwide to ramp up renewable energy installations in pursuit of decarbonization targets, as we have addressed in a different article. 

To overcome NIMBY, Denmark’s largest energy and distribution company, and a major developer, Andel, recently chose a different approach than what you usually see, boldly confronting the NIMBY challenge head-on through a nationwide campaign that puts real-life ‘rebels’ front and center.

A substantial commitment of €12.06 billion underscores the magnitude of Andel, Denmark’s largest power utility company, as it gears up to expand its renewable energy infrastructure over the next decade. In a Danish context, this financial commitment is significant. However, its true value hinges on the ability to navigate and overcome opposition, ensuring the realization of crucial wind and solar projects vital for greening the energy mix.

Setting the Stage: Andel's struggle with NIMBY

Born from a merger of two major Danish power suppliers, Andel inherited not only considerable clout but also a pressing need to establish its identity and garner public favor. Yet, standing in its path was the formidable barrier of local resistance. Many of its green projects remained grounded, stymied by communities averse to living in the shadow of wind turbines and solar panels. But amidst this quagmire, Andel saw an opportunity.

"We have limited space in Denmark, so if new wind farms are to be set up, many will become neighbors to them, and that creates dissatisfaction for some. That turned out to be the biggest hurdle for Andel, so it became the starting point for our campaign strategy"

Insights Drove Action

Before launching its campaign, Andel, in collaboration with Norstat, embarked on a pan-European survey spanning 26 countries and over 26,000 interviews. The goal? To delve into European attitudes towards the green energy transition and unearth truths about local sentiments ripe for strategic exploitation.


The findings were revealing. While 20% of Danes expressed opposition to wind farms near their homes (with a slightly lower 19% for solar parks), a striking 82% maintained a favorable view of wind energy overall. Further digging unveiled that local opponents of wind projects had managed to cancel out 14 out of 17 onshore wind projects in the last two years alone.

This contrast underscored the paradoxical nature of public sentiment—a key insight that would inform Andel’s campaign strategy.

Illustration showing the public support for wind turbines in the EU
Illustration showing the public support for wind turbines in the EU (top and bottom three contries)

Real Stories, Real Impact

We’ve all seen commercials that feel staged and lack authenticity. Such approaches seldom resonate deeply enough to incite real change in attitudes and behaviors—an objective Andel was keenly aware of. Thus, the decision was made to adopt a documentary-style approach, featuring genuine NIMBY individuals candidly expressing their concerns about living near wind turbines.

The hero video used for the campaign. Credit: Andel

Assessing the Aftermath

As the old saying goes, “money makes the world go round.” Yet, to usher in the green transition, local support, not just money, is paramount in overcoming installation hurdles. So, has Andel’s campaign succeeded in reshaping perceptions? With over a year gone since its launch, now is an opportune moment to reflect on its impact—not only on Andel’s brand awareness, given its relative novelty upon launch, but also on any tangible business ramifications.

"Our Wind Energy Team, the team responsible for finding locations for new wind projects, have gotten significantly more requests than they have ever received"
Rikke Harbo Trikke, Head of Communications, Andel
Rikke Harbo Trikker
Head of Communications, Andel
Quote taken from Markedsfø

By the numbers, Andel’s strategy of confronting NIMBYism head-on has not only swayed skeptics but has also spurred proactive engagement. Since the campaign’s launch, over 11,000 unique submissions have poured in—an impressive testament to its efficacy.

Notable Campaign Results

  • 24,000 likes, shares & comments
  • 11,885 unique locations identified for onshore wind turbine installations
  • Earned media value: 3.5m DKK
  • 49% campaign awareness among all Danes
  • 24% exhibit a more positive attitude towards wind turbines
  • 25% have contributed more to the green transition post-campaign
  • 146 unique press mentions across TV, radio, print media, and online platforms

    (Source: Markedsfø

Round 2 – The Fall of NIMBY?

But the journey doesn’t end here. In late 2023, Andel launched a second wave, employing creative tactics to further shift public perception. Dubbed the ‘Windy Retreat,’ this initiative invited NIMBYs to experience life near wind turbines firsthand. Over 1,200 Danes applied, with 16 families ultimately selected to spend a week amidst the turbines. For those not chosen, Andel provided a map highlighting rental properties near wind turbines, offering everyone the chance to challenge their assumptions. “Compared to the first campaign, which was about whether there should be space at all, citizen meetings are now being held in the municipalities to discuss where the space should be, says Rikke Harbo Trikke. 

The hero video for the second burst. Credit: Andel

Ahead of this initiative, Andel and Norstat conducted another survey revealing that 93% of Danes living near wind turbines experience minimal disturbances. Armed with this insight, Andel extended an invitation for skeptics to experience the reality for themselves.


"When we add this opportunity to the mix and say, okay, we're now giving you the opportunity to try it out yourselves, then I also think that you lose the right to shout loudly if you don't take up the offer."
Rikke Harbo Trikke, Head of Communications, Andel
Rikke Harbo Trikker
Head of Communications, Andel
Quote taken from Markedsfø


Even though the latest results have not been disclosed by Andel yet, judging by the current numbers and change in public sentiment over such a short period, I think it is safe to say that Andel’s approach to overcoming the NIMBY challenge as a large power producer and developer is noteworthy to say the least. While Andel’s approach may not be universally applicable, its commitment to open dialogue and engagement should serve as inspiration for everyone. As nations worldwide strive for cleaner energy futures, Andel’s journey from NIMBY to PIMPY underscores the transformative power of communication and empathy in overcoming local opposition.