Inclusive, frequent and transparent community engagement reinforces local support for ocean energy projects, according to a new guide.
Published by industry body, Ocean Energy Europe, based in Brussels, the guide seeks to set out best practice that it says will build trust, pre-empt opposition, and allow future projects to be deployed in accordance with the local community.
The organisation adds that ocean energy is “generally very welcomed” by locals as a means to create local jobs and fight climate change.
Authored by a sectoral advisory body, the European Technology & Innovation Platform for Ocean Energy (ETIP Ocean), Local Community Engagement: Ocean energy best practices aims to help ocean energy developers design their own community engagement strategy.
Rémi Gruet, Ocean Energy Europe’s chief executive, said : “This first-of-a-kind guide for ocean energy community engagement allows the sector to further strengthen the positive local perception towards ocean energy.
“Engaging with local communities is often required by permitting authorities and if done correctly, can hugely facilitate project development. These best practices should be a central part of any ocean energy project’s local community engagement strategy.”
The guide lays out the best practices used in existing ocean energy projects, identified through a first ever study focusing on local community engagement in the ocean energy sector, carried out by France Énergies Marines.
The best practices advocate a thorough mapping of stakeholders and local issues. Involving scientific experts will bring in credible and factual information, it says
Engaging with stakeholders early and throughout the project is also key, as it creates trust and reduces information overload. Information should be shared transparently and via different media. Educating the locals on the project, technology and local benefits will improve social acceptance, says the guide.
Organising in-person meetings with the whole community and key stakeholders is another vital practice to address questions and consult the locals. To help liaise with the community, the guide proposes identifying a local mediator or creating a steering committee.
By following these practices, developers can strengthen local support, accelerate permitting and reduce project costs. Developing ocean energy in harmony with local communities will provide a faster path to industrial roll-out.
Image credit: Siemens Energy
Are you a building professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.