Social Research

The emerging wave energy industry has the opportunity to be developed in a “socially responsible manner.” But what does this mean, exactly? Will there be positive effects for society and how it functions? Will people want to stay in the area because they want to live, work, or recreate there?

We must be aware that society can be skeptical of new technologies, especially when there are unanswered questions related to economic and ecological effects. Taking steps to assure this means to address the human dimension issues and answering social, economic, political, and cultural questions through research. Examples of this include:

  • How is wave energy generation off of the Oregon coast being perceived in general?
  • Who are the stakeholders and how are they engaged?
  • Is this activity further defining differences in rural and urban perceptions of the coast and the direction of its economic and social development?
  • Cumulatively how does the human dimension of the wave energy equation effect public perceptions, public policy and the successful adoption of wave energy technology along Oregon’s coast?
  • Who’s responsible for planning and regulating this new use of the ocean -- federal, state or local government? What should the processes be for permitting?
  • What are all of the correct steps that should be followed? 

The wave energy industry also has the opportunity (and the responsibility where possible) to stimulate local community and economic development. Examples of this include job creation, funding for schools and other social infrastructure, support for workforce development, etc.

To address these and other socioeconomic questions, the emerging wave energy industry must reach out to inform and engage with local ocean users and the public early in the process. In addition, the public must be educated about these technologies, their promises and effects, so that they can participate in decision-making. 

Learn more about NNMREC's people and their research mission