Orkney workshops on the social impact of marine renewable energy

Dr Sandy Kerr with colleagues at the ISSMER workshop

A group of international social science specialists meeting at Heriot-Watt's Orkney Campus have identified some key questions and areas for further study in the rapidly developing area of marine renewable energy.

International Network for Social Studies in Marine Energy

They were brought together under the organisation of ISSMER (International Network for Social Studies in Marine Energy), run jointly by Heriot-Watt's Dr Sandy Kerr and colleagues at IT University in Copenhagen, and supported by the NERC marine Renewable Energy Knowledge Exchange Programme.

The marine renewable energy industry is at a crucial moment, with devices moving from the drawing board to full-scale prototypes and the announcement of the first large-scale wave and tide energy farms.

Dr Sandy Kerr

Dr Kerr said, "The marine renewable energy industry is at a crucial moment, with devices moving from the drawing board to full-scale prototypes and the announcement of the first large-scale wave and tide energy farms. Around the world countries are assessing the potential energy resource in their national waters. Commercialisation is creating new interactions between environment, technology and society and starting to affect coastal communities, users of the sea, policy makers, energy companies and governments.

"Orkney is a key location in these developments, and these workshops are an important step in learning from local stakeholders of all sorts, in identifying key research priorities and new research agendas and addressing and learning to understand the social aspects of this important new energy sector."

Five areas for future study

The workshops identified five important areas for further study and research: consultation, communications, comparative studies, a balance between governance and community needs and looking at futures scenarios andpotential risks. The outcomes from the workshops will now be refined and will form the basis of ongoing international discussion and research.

For further information please visit: http://www.issmer-network.org