Social media and sentiment in bioenergy consultation

Uren, Victoria; Wright, Daniel; Scott, James; He, Yulan and Saif, Hassan (2016). Social media and sentiment in bioenergy consultation. International Journal of Energy Sector Management, 10(1) pp. 87–98.



Purpose: 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 organisations 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.

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.

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