There is now a large literature dealing with the policy question of public participation in technical choice and technology assessment (TA). Files such as the mad cow crisis, genetically modified food, and the emerging nanotechnologies have been edified into a public problem, and have given place to a number of experiments and reviews about participatory arrangements. Much less attention has been devoted so far to the application of the TA framework to more local and limited projects-not yet and maybe never reaching the public problem status-and the management of their societal dimensions. Among them, new energy technology represents a very interesting field for investigation: many of the new energy enjoy a global positive public image whereas the local implementation of their implantation often raises societal questions and oppositions. This paper describes an original experiment conducted in the field of new energy technologies during which a participatory technology assessment inspired approach was applied to a number of individual and local projects. A framework methodology called ESTEEM was developed to facilitate such participatory process to take place, and it was tested and evaluated in 5 projects located in 5 different countries over Europe. A detailed discussion of the ESTEEM method and its application to one case study, a Carbon Sequestration project in The Netherlands, is provided. We show that a major question in the application in such participatory framework is to establish a reflective practice of project management based on situated and constructive interactions between project promoters and project stakeholders.
- Participatory technology assessment
- Social acceptance of technology