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Marine renewables beyond economic growth: social acceptance for new development paradigms

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The aim of this PhD project is to examine the prospects, governance and models for mapping and developing support and opposition for marine renewables in a post-growth context. As some scientists and economists suggest that a green/sustainable transition requires not simply a low carbon, but perhaps low/no growth economy (Anderson and Bows 2011, Barry, 2019), this project will explore the implications this may have for the marine renewables sector, which like other forms of energy development has implicitly or explicitly been based around orthodox GDP understandings of the economy and the objective of increasing economic growth.

This PhD project will bring together two areas/bodies of knowledge – social acceptance (Cooney, 2017) of marine renewables and green/post-growth political economy to generate new insights and policy recommendations for understanding perceptions and resistance amongst key stakeholders to new paradigms and objectives for planning and public policy in the marine environment. Key questions of this PhD are:

1. How can social acceptance from key stakeholders be encouraged and fostered for this new non-growth objective for expanding the marine renewables sector?
2. What does this sector look like in the context of low growth or de/post-growth?
3. What other objectives can replace the profit motive for driving the development of marine renewables?
4. What lessons from the marine renewables sector could be applied to other policy areas in terms of analysing and generating support for post-growth objectives?

This PhD thesis will use case studies (in Ireland and from across Europe) to interview and gather data (using Q Methodology, interviews and focus groups) to explore the social awareness and social acceptance amongst key marine renewable stakeholders of post-growth ideas in general and their application within the marine energy sector. It will produce new theoretical insights in outlining the main components of post-growth marine renewable development, discourses of social acceptance and resistance to this paradigm shift, as well as policy recommendations around post-growth marine energy objectives.

This PhD will be associated with the MISTRAL Innovative Training Network, an EU funded programme of 15 PhDs, based in 7 European Universities. Although not funded directly from the MISTRAL programme, the candidates will be able to take part in all the relevant network training and placement opportunities. However, unlike the positions funded by MISTRAL, the EU’s mobility restrictions will not apply to this studentship, with those candidates resident in the UK for the last three years applicable for full fees and subsistence support. Please see for more information on the MISTRAL Network here:

• Dr Wesley Flannery (School of Natural and Built Environment)
• Prof John Barry (School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics)
• Prof Geraint Ellis (School of Natural and Built Environment)

Key Contact
Dr Wesley Flannery

Deadline for applications
1st March 2019

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