Offshore Wind, Work and the Digital Frontier: What Kind of Green Economy and for Whom?

Research proposals

  • Research area

    Low carbon transitions and community benefits

  • Institution

    Durham University

  • Research project

    Offshore Wind, Work and the Digital Frontier: What Kind of Green Economy and for Whom?

  • Lead supervisor

    Professor Gavin Bridge (Professor – Department of Geography, Durham University)

  • Supervisory Team

    Professor Gavin Bridge (Professor – Department of Geography, Durham University)
    Dr Sarah Knuth (Geography, Durham University)

Project Description:

As offshore wind emerges as a crucial resource frontier and industry for 21st century economies, it confronts an essential, yet underexamined paradox. Like other advanced cleantech sectors today, offshore wind has attracted a wave of digital innovation and would-be technological disruption: schemes for drone monitoring, machine learning and other ‘Internet of things’ interventions to boost wind farms’ economic productivity and spin off new support industries. Such economic development visions have likewise enticed regional and national governments as they work to imagine and promote a green economy, in the United Kingdom and beyond. Yet wind developers face competing mandates. Notably, as offshore wind industries and infrastructure locate in deindustrialised cities and along disinvested coasts, governments and developers have framed wind projects as a locus of working class job creation and regional revitalisation – local jobs largely absent from the high-tech imaginaries above. These competing priorities for labour-saving technological innovation (with jobs for the highly-educated few) and broad-based ‘green collar’ job generation demand further investigation. Fundamentally, they offer a window into profound questions facing a green economy, geographies of work within it and the nature of its resource-economic frontier: what kind of economy will it be, and for whom?

 

Download all research proposals here