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PhD: Marine Renewable Energy - Communication and knowledge flow

Project Reference SMYAS10


Project Summary

This project will explore the communication and transfer of scientific knowledge between stakeholders involved in proposed marine renewable energy projects.


Supervisory Team Main Supervisor: Dr Thomas Smyth Co-Supervisor(s): Dr Anna Davidson


Project Introduction


Marine renewable energy projects are increasing across the globe and are a key element of current and future global renewable energy (MRE) and carbon emission reduction targets. Public perception and acceptance of marine renewable energy is crucial to their success and is tied to public knowledge of these technologies and their impacts. This project will: examine the communication of scientific knowledge on marine renewable energy and its impacts; explore the flow and reception of knowledge between stakeholders; analyse the relationship between knowledge and acceptability of MRE.


Project Details


The development of marine renewable energy is instrumental to creating a sustainable and low-carbon energy system. To date, academic research relating to marine renewable energy has largely focused on related technologies, resource assessment and environmental impact. However, as marine renewable energy projects mature and become commercially viable, interaction with a range of communities and stakeholders will increase. Experience from onshore renewable energy demonstrates that public acceptability is critical to project success. This project will identify selected case study communities, which are likely to be impacted by novel marine renewable energy technologies, in order to: 1) Analyse the communication of scientific knowledge on MRE and its impacts 2) Map the flow of information between stakeholders (in particular between governmental bodies, NGOs, scientific researchers, industry and the communities most impacted) 3) Analyse the relationship between community knowledge of MRE and acceptability.

  1. Analyse the communication of scientific knowledge on MRE and its impacts. Whilst much research has been conducted regarding the potential impacts to marine life from renewable marine energy production, few studies have investigated how this scientific knowledge is communicated with the communities that may be most impacted by marine renewable energy.

  2. Map the flow of scientific knowledge between stakeholders. Once key publications and sources of information have been identified and analysed, participative workshops and focus groups will be held with communities impacted, to understand their awareness, reception and interpretation of scientific information on MRE. Expert interviews and focus groups will be conducted with key stakeholders responsible for public communication, to map the flow of information.

  3. Analysing the relationship between knowledge of MRE and public acceptability. There is an implicit assumption that knowledge of MRE and its impacts will affect public acceptability of future developments. Analysing data across several case studies and comparing how knowledge relates to public acceptability, will allow for a clearer understanding of the relationship between scientific communication and public acceptability.

Entry Requirements

The prospective applicant should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject area. Applicants without a 2.1 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Merit or Distinction at Master’s level. The candidate must also demonstrate the capacity to work with diverse groups of people, have good interpersonal skills and attention to detail. Experience of qualitative research methods and analysis is essential.

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