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Social media and sentiment in bioenergy consultation

Victoria Uren (Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Daniel Wright (European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
James Scott (European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Yulan He (School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Hassan Saif (Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)

International Journal of Energy Sector Management

ISSN: 1750-6220

Article publication date: 4 April 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to address the following challenge: the push to widen participation in public consultation suggests social media as an additional mechanism through which to engage the public. Bioenergy companies need to build their capacity to communicate in these new media and to monitor the attitudes of the public and opposition organizations towards energy development projects.

Design/methodology/approach

This short paper outlines the planning issues bioenergy developments face and the main methods of communication used in the public consultation process in the UK. The potential role of social media in communication with stakeholders is identified. The capacity of sentiment analysis to mine opinions from social media is summarised and illustrated using a sample of tweets containing the term “bioenergy”.

Findings

Social media have the potential to improve information flows between stakeholders and developers. Sentiment analysis is a viable methodology, which bioenergy companies should be using to measure public opinion in the consultation process. Preliminary analysis shows promising results.

Research limitations/implications

Analysis is preliminary and based on a small dataset. It is intended only to illustrate the potential of sentiment analysis and not to draw general conclusions about the bioenergy sector.

Social implications

Social media have the potential to open access to the consultation process and help bioenergy companies to make use of waste for energy developments.

Originality/value

Opinion mining, though established in marketing and political analysis, is not yet systematically applied as a planning consultation tool. This is a missed opportunity.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Daniel Wright and James Scott are funded by the BioenNW (INTERREG IVB) project. This work was supported by the EU-FP7 project SENSE4US (grant no. 611242).

Citation

Uren, V., Wright , D., Scott, J., He, Y. and Saif, H. (2016), "Social media and sentiment in bioenergy consultation", International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 87-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJESM-11-2014-0007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited