Marine renewables as cultural heritage: contemporary archaeologies of an industry

Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / WebinarOral presentation


Responding to the marine heritage and culture theme, this paper explores archaeological approaches to energy. It examines the role of material approaches to renewable energy, and marine renewables in particular, in the transition to Net Zero. The archaeologies of renewable energy regimes of wave, tidal and green hydrogen production will be discussed. What are the archaeological traces of energy production now and into the future? How can a fine-grained understanding of site-based energy production and transitions in the recent past enable greater readiness for transitions yet to come? Drawing on a recent project as a case study, Orkney Energy Landscapes, the methods of recording energy sites will be discussed in the context of Orkney’s renewables journey. Orkney is a place where renewable technology not only has a history but is also part of an unfolding story of technological innovation and testing. Elsewhere in Scotland, the Beatrice oil platform complex which includes two marine turbines built in 2007, leading to the installation of the new offshore windfarm completed in 2019, provides a wider case study for the development, construction and soon decommissioning of a demonstrator marine renewable project. Contemporary energy sites, installations and marine environments require new methods to record and track processes that are ongoing, at a range of scales and settings (e.g. from small device test sites to the life cycles of large offshore wind installations). How do we tell the material stories of renewable installations that are out of reach and nearly out of sight for the general population in the UK? As energy production disperses to the margins it is important to foster connections between where energy is made and how it is used. This research is highlighting how contemporary archaeology can contribute to wider energy debates and enable new cultural heritage approaches to marine renewables in the drive to Net Zero.
Period18 Apr 2024
Event titleEnvironmental Interactions with Marine Renewables (EIMR) 2024
Event typeConference
LocationKirkwall, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Renewable energy
  • Marine renewables
  • Contemporary Archaeology
  • Cultural Heritage