Tackling grand challenges in wind energy through a socio-technical perspective

Julia Kirch Kirkegaard*, David Philipp Rudolph, Sophie Nyborg, Helena Solman, Elizabeth Gill, Tom Cronin, Mary Hallisey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Wind power has an important role to play in tackling climate change. Key challenges in wind energy science and innovation must be overcome to increase the penetration and capability of this technology. However, the success of these efforts heavily depends on how society engages with the development of wind power infrastructure. Consequently, grand challenges exist in both technical and social domains, yet little research has made substantial efforts in connecting them. Here we review the social science and humanities literature on wind energy to illustrate the social dimensions of previously identified technical challenges. We suggest that a socio-technical lens enables an interdisciplinary approach to overcome the prevalent tendency of silo thinking in wind energy research and use it to explore socio-technical grand challenges related to the design, planning, development, operational and end-of-life phases of wind energy. Finally, we provide an outlook for research, practice and innovation, including an interdisciplinary and socio-technical research agenda for wind energy science, renewable energy developments and science policy in general. Wind power faces numerous challenges as its role in energy systems expands, yet these are often largely seen as purely technical. This Review examines social science research connected to previously identified grand challenges in wind power and explores how a socio-technical lens can lead to improved outcomes for future wind projects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Energy
Pages (from-to)655-664
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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