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Scoping report of the social acceptance of the LiftWEC technology

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

A new research report has been published for Deliverable D9.3 - 'Scoping report of the social acceptance of the LiftWEC technology’ - of the LiftWEC project. This report has been co-authored by MSSRG memebers Ben McAteer and Wesley Flannery. LiftWEC is a collaborative research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 851885. It is the intention of the project consortium that the LiftWEC project culminates in the development of one or more promising configurations of a Wave Energy Converter operating through the use of one or more rotating hydrofoils that generate lift as the primary interaction with the incident waves. In this Deliverable, a scoping report of the potential social acceptance of the LiftWEC technology is presented. As the only Deliverable on this project that assesses social acceptance issues, it is the intention of this report to present useful and carefully considered guidelines on how the LiftWEC project should prepare for, and manage, the planning, investment, and consultation processes. The research findings presented in this report are informed by a review of current literature on social acceptance, an analysis of previous research studies that have investigated similar issues, and the results of several semi-structured interviews that were conducted with relevant actors. Valuable learning lessons are presented in the discussion section of this report, which suggest how the LiftWEC project can maximise its potential socio-political, market and community acceptance.

Broken down thematically, the findings presented in this report help to accommodate for gaps of knowledge in current literature and reflect important perspectives that the LiftWEC project can learn from. A key finding regards the manner in which planning processes engage with emerging Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) technologies, such as the LiftWEC concept. It is revealed that there are multiple non-technological barriers that can prevent emerging projects from developing relationships with planning actors, including communication and knowledge exchange constraints. Additionally, insight on the value of emerging projects facilitating early engagement with stakeholders is illustrated. It is found that, although early engagement can be significantly beneficial for the acceptance of a MRE proposal, there are numerous challenges that must be considered. These challenges, which include providing technological certainty and building trust amongst stakeholders, are assessed in this report and potential solutions are proposed. Important findings regarding the need for change to marine planning procedures are also presented. These findings are complimented by the presentation of interviewees’ forecasts on the potential future of MRE technologies. Learning from the collected findings, this Deliverable report proposes three learning lessons on how the LiftWEC project can gain high, and sustainable, levels of social acceptance.

The structure of this Deliverable report is described briefly as follows. Firstly, an introduction to the report is provided. This includes a discussion of the wider LiftWEC project and the purpose of this scoping report. Secondly, a literature review on the topic of social acceptance is presented. This review illustrates how academic literature has traditionally framed the concept of social acceptance, outlining gaps of knowledge and exemplifying the need for greater research on the social acceptance of wave energy technology. Thirdly, the methodology of this study is explained and justified. Fourthly, the research findings are presented. The findings are discussed in a thematic manner, with key points including the nature of the planning process, the facilitation of public participation, market opportunities and barriers, and the forecasted future of MRE. Fifthly, three recommended learning lessons are put forward. These are designed to inform the LiftWEC project on how it can maximise its potential socio-political, market and community acceptance. This report then concludes by reiterating the key arguments, research findings and recommendations that are outlined in this report. It is hoped that this report can help to inform the evolvement of the LiftWEC project and, in particular, can guide the manner in which it engages with the planning process, investors and local communities.

To learn more about the LiftWEC project, click here.

The full scoping report can be downloaded by clicking the file below:

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