Grand Challenges in Social Aspects of Wind Energy Development
Abstract. Social aspects are gaining traction in wind energy research. Increasing local opposition to wind energy projects is just one symptom of deeper-rooted challenges in the further expansion of the technology. A recent publication by Kirkegaard et al. (2023a) lays out the grand challenges related to the complex interactions between society and wind energy technology and outlines a research agenda for wind energy research from a socio-technical perspective. This article discusses these challenges in the context of a more technologically focused research audience. We begin by describing the role of social sciences in wind energy research, arguing for the diverse set of insights, research topics, and value that they can add, going beyond outdated concepts of social acceptance (such as NIMBY), and providing solutions for public engagement and planning processes, just ownership structures and value-based design. We discuss social grand challenges in five areas: (1) Project planning & spatial relations, (2) Wind turbine design & scalability, (3) Grid integration, roles & responsibilities, (4) General public perception of the technology, (5) Energy policy to support system transformation. We conclude by reflecting how social sciences and technical sciences can be better integrated to jointly advance wind energy research into a new interdisciplinary era that is able to provide holistic solutions for a transition to carbon-neutrality.
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