Coastlines as Energy Landscapes: Governance and Uncertainty in Offshore Wind Energy

a project of the Orfalea Research Clusters initiative

UCSB-based collaborators:
Simone Pulver, Environmental Studies Program, and Dept. of Sociology
Ben Halpern, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and Marine Science Institute
David Lopez-Carr, Department of Geography
Mel Manalis, LSOE, Environmental Studies Program, and Institute for Energy Efficiency
Karly Marie Miller, Graduate Student, Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science

Other collaborators:
Steve Gaines, UCSB, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology
Baruch Fischhoff, Carnegie Mellon University, Social and Decision Sciences
Paulina Jaramillo, Carnegie Mellon University, Engineering and Public Policy
Anita Engels, University of Hamburg, Sociology
Mirko Suhari, University of Hamburg, Sociology

Abstract: Coastal communities around the globe stand at the intersection of two transformational trends. First, the biophysical environments on which these communities rely are at the forefront of experiencing the impacts of global climate change, such as sea-level rise and the increased intensity of tropical storms. Second, they face increasingly complex and uncertain decisions as new uses of the ocean and coasts—such as offshore energy and aquaculture—move into places already heavily used for housing, fishing, recreation, tourism, storm protection, and other purposes. The result of this intersection is a daunting governance challenge: How to identify and prioritize management goals in complex, coupled human-natural-technical systems under conditions of uncertainty? The goal of this Orfalea Research Cluster Proposal is to catalyze a cross-national comparative research effort focused on the transformation of coastlines into energy landscapes through the global expansion of offshore wind energy production. The centerpiece of the proposal is to organize a workshop at UCSB which brings into dialogue two research groups actively engaged in studying the transformation of coastal systems due to the expansion of offshore wind energy projects; one is centered here at UCSB and focuses on California coastal systems and the second is centered at the University of Hamburg, focusing on coastal transformations in Northern Europe. Both are stand-alone projects, in the initial stages of research. The UCSB project has submitted a four-year research proposal to the National Science Foundation. The University of Hamburg project is preparing a three-year research proposal. Funding from the Orfalea Center will take this research into a demonstrably new direction by 1) adding a cross-national comparative element to these two projects and 2) launching at UCSB a multinational comparative project on the governance of offshore wind energy projects.