Low conflict pathways to renewable energy: using predictive models to reduce social risk 

December 20th, 2023

We are developing new scientific methods to test ways to manage community conflict around new technologies such as offshore wind.

Project Duration December 2023 — June 2025

offshore windmill park with stormy clouds and a blue sky, windmill park in the ocean. Netherlands Europe

The Challenge

In Australia and elsewhere, carbon emission targets are accelerating the planning and construction of renewable energy infrastructure, including offshore wind systems. But new proposals are increasingly being contested by local communities, as well as national and international advocacy groups.  

If left unaddressed, conflict between proponents, regulators, advocacy groups and communities can lead to increasingly polarised discourse that disrupts decision-making, impedes development, increases costs, and fragments communities.  

There is an urgent need to develop strategies and approaches that build understanding and trust across all interest groups in ways that will support an efficient and socially responsible transition to renewable energy for Australia’s future. 

Our Response

CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform and Environment Business Unit are collaborating to develop novel new scientific methods to test community conflict management options prior to the deployment of new technologies such as offshore wind in shared marine spaces.  

Our approach is to build a virtual world of interacting individuals and broadcast media, reflecting attitudes from across communities and other stakeholder groups. Highly realistic simulations of evolving attitudes can be achieved by utilising information from community surveys, social and broadcast media, supported by analyses that draw on artificial intelligence techniques. 

This project also builds on the team’s prior work with Australia’s aquaculture sector.   There, developing and modelling the influence of diverse stakeholder values and interests was critical to the cooperative management of shared resources.  


This project will identify effective strategies to increase communication, build trust, and steer discussion towards resolving real (rather than perceived) differences. Avoiding more adversarial pathways will help maintain community cohesion, improve environmental outcomes, and ultimately reduce the timeframes and costs of the renewable energy transition.  

 The methods and approaches developed in this project will be applicable to a wide range of socio-ecological issues, including the development of other forms of renewable energy, food production and extractive industries. 


Scott Condie – Project Lead, Matthew Andreotta, Corrine Condie, Jess Melbourne-Thomas  


Condie, C.,  Melbourne-Thomas, J., Spillias, S., Andreotta, M. and S. Condie (2024) Low conflict pathways to renewable energy: Stakeholder attitudes to the proposed Bass Strait offshore wind energy zone, CSIRO.   https://doi.org/10.25919/3k85-wa73  


Reducing socio-ecological conflict using social influence modelling

Stochastic events can explain sustained clustering and polarisation of opinions in social networks