Social acceptance and external effects of offshore wind in the green transition 

By Emma Susanna Hidas; Sharon Nytte

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The doctoral work of Sharon Nytte concludes that Norwegians support floating offshore wind power projects that apply domestic technology and supply electricity to Norwegian households and industries.

Norway is characterized by a colossal ocean areas and offshore wind resources which are unparalleled in continental Europe. However, its ocean and seas areas fundamentally deep even along the coastlines.  Accordingly, the average water depths are 60m for the North Sea, 1600m for the Norwegian Sea, and 230m for the Barents Sea. Considering the 60m depth threshold for commercially feasible fixed-bottom technology, Norway must utilize ‘immature’ floating wind technology to achieve its 30GW offshore wind power ambitions by 2040. However, Norway has notable advantages, including long experience applying floating technology in the oil and gas sector and a leader in developing offshore wind projects. Thus, the primary objective of the thesis is to study whether Norwegians support the development of floating offshore wind power projects and the establishment of an offshore wind power industry.  Additionally, the thesis includes a review that pinpoints relevant attributes for analyzing offshore wind power externalities. 

The thesis finds Norwegians to support the inauguration of floating offshore wind power projects. Although support is consistent across Norway, it is, however, contingent on offshore wind power projects’ characteristics. For instance, people prefer the local consumption of produced electricity, and the application of domestic technology, including floating platforms. Concisely, people’s socio-demographics, their perceptions about technology risks and benefit, their attitudes towards broadening activities for conventional industries as well as their perceived meanings and attachment to the ocean influences their attitudes towards new floating offshore wind power projects. Moreover, visibility disseminates as well as offshore wind effect on marine ecosystems and conventional offshore industries are studied extensively in the literature. 

The thesis offers relevant insights for economic evaluation of offshore wind power, and a deeper understanding of factors relevant when gauging support for new renewable energy projects. In an era of utilizing public funds to develop projects, proper valuation and costing of renewable energy projects, including their social costs is paramount for optimal project implementation. 

Sharon Nytte will defend her PhD thesis "Social acceptance and external effects of offshore wind in the green transition" on 19 April 2024.

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