Conditions for just offshore wind energy: Addressing the societal challenges of the North Sea wind industry

Energy Research & Social Science, Vol 107, January 2024, 12 p.

Global investment in offshore wind energy is anticipated to surge in the coming decades. While improved technology, reduced costs, and generous policy support are frequently acknowledged as driving factors, many assert that there are fewer societal challenges with offshore renewable installations than with onshore ones. Drawing from a co-creation process with key Norwegian stakeholders and an interdisciplinary team of social science and humanities scholars, this article delves deeper than the prevalent techno-economic discourse. It seeks to: a) identify the societal challenges of fostering a just and legitimate offshore wind industry; b) explore solutions to these challenges; and c) understand the potential role of transdisciplinary action research in driving change. Through this collaboration, industry actors co-formulated an agenda for offshore wind, highlighting varied issues and concerns. This was operationalized into four primary societal challenges: 1) Navigating the public debate; 2) Improving public participation; 3) Minimizing land and sea use and co-existence conflicts, and 4) Understanding pace, political dynamics, and geopolitics. This paper offers an exhaustive discussion on possible strategies to tackle these issues, presenting a critical companion research agenda to the predominantly technology-focused studies on offshore wind within the sustainability transitions literature.

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