Energy transition

Society's Involvement Is Key in Advancing the Green Energy Transition

Addressing climate change isn't just a technical issue; it's a societal one. A recent article in Nature Energy highlights the increasing urgency for engineers and social scientists to combine their expertise.

Julia Kirch Kirkegaard, Associate Professor at DTU Wind and Energy Systems and lead author of the recent review article published in Nature Energy on socio-technical grand challenges in wind energy.


The Nature Energy paper Tackling grand challenges in wind energy through a socio-technical perspective promotes a lens founded in STS (Science & Technology Studies) to push the technical sciences and the state-of-the-art in social sciences and humanities on the issue (i.e., the social acceptance literature) forward and towards more interdisciplinary research:

Technical sciences need to move beyond their perspective on local opposition as a barrier to be tackled through technical or economic means to appreciate better their role in society and how their design and deployment decisions shape societal dynamics. It might even make it possible to look at public opposition not as something that must be done away with but as a potential for learning and value-creation.

The state-of-the-art in the social sciences (the social acceptance literature) has tended to focus on the planning and development phases, largely overlooking the technologies themselves, their design, and scientific reasons. With this, they lack an appreciation of how decisions about whose concerns should count (or not) are already made in the design phase. Sometimes making solutions to tackle local opposition in the planning and development phases are in vain and too late.

The work on the Nature Energy paper is a collaborative effort between European and American scholars – at DTU Wind and Energy Systems, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

The paper is part of ten papers on the grand challenges in wind energy science, published in journals such as Science and Wind Energy Science, encompassing topics like atmosphere, environmental concerns, digitalization, etc.

The work on grand challenges in wind energy science is facilitated by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Programme, which has recently determined that for wind power to fulfil its expected role as a major global supplier of carbon-free energy, critical challenges around the design, development, and deployment of wind energy must be addressed.