Development of a conceptual model towards an innovative solution for marine energy decision-making

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Lange, Marcus
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University College Cork
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The key topic of research in this thesis is one of governance challenges with respect to marine energy. Marine energy (ME) refers to forms of hydrocarbons and renewable energy, including wind, wave and tidal energy that are extracted from marine resources. Increasingly, Marine Renewable Energy (MRE), namely from offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, is viewed as an opportunity to meet climate change obligations, with the added benefit of powering the economy and the creation of jobs. The marine energy sector faces a range of challenges including technological, and importantly, governance challenges. Large-scale energy infrastructure projects reveal a complex array of governance issues to be reconciled, including a failure to meet the expectations of the public affected by development. This focuses attention on the need to understand the governance framework, especially in order to facilitate the transition to a carbon neutral economy. To date, some limited research has been undertaken on linear governance dimensions related to sectoral aspects of marine energy exploration. Even less research has been undertaken on integrating governance dimensions, from the broad perspectives of policy and regulation, industry development and civil society. The research objective was to develop a conceptual model that describes the different components of ME governance, with a focus on Ireland, with practical implications for governance in the future. This model was developed based on the analyses of case studies, including in-depth examples from the United States and Ireland. Given the understanding that transition from fossil fuels to renewables requires knowledge transfer and learning from past large-scale infrastructure development projects, and the way that stakeholders were engaged in such cases, case studies from both MRE and offshore oil and gas sectors were considered in the study. Each of the case studies illustrated different elements of marine energy governance, stakeholder analysis, policy framework analysis and literature analyses. High-level views on offshore energy developments in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark were also provided. In-depth analyses found that current governance frameworks lack efficacy in terms of policy integration and enforcement, government oversight to unlock the potential of yet untapped commercial resources, and trust on the part of local communities due to past failures. The study concludes that there is a missing connection between governance and management, particularly in the domains of policy and regulation; industry development; and public engagement. The findings of this research address this gap and provide cornerstones of a practical model on how this disconnection can be avoided in the future. By weight of evidence these principles are the ‘facilitation of governance collaboration and integration’ and ‘knowledge creation’ as a result of a scientifically robust evidence base. The role of an honest broker is recommended to support ‘facilitation and knowledge creation’. In terms of theoretical contribution of this research these two principles should be added to the list of good governance principles addressed in current literature on the topic. The study harnessed an opportunity to engage with a wider range of multiple stakeholders representing various strands of governance and diverse cohorts of civil society. The extended gathering of information by means of 56 semi-structured interviews with 95 experts and stakeholders, group discussions in Ireland and the U.S. and the organisation of a national “Marine Energy Governance Workshop” are significant research contributions from this thesis.
Governance , Marine renewable energy , Marine energy , Marine governance , Public engagement , Energy transition
Lange, M. 2018. Development of a conceptual model towards an innovative solution for marine energy decision-making. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.