Julia Kirch Kirkegaard

Associate Professor

Julia Kirch Kirkegaard

Department of Wind and Energy Systems

DTU Wind Energy Systems Division (WES),

Frederiksborgvej 399

Building 115 Room S23

4000 Roskilde




I am an Economic Sociologist of Technology, Research, and Innovation, specialising primarily in Valuation Studies within Science & Technology Studies (STS). I have a PhD from Copenhagen Business School (funded by the Sino-Danish Center for Research & Education, SDC) and have held Postdoc positions at DTU Wind Energy and Stanford University. I am currently engaged in the following research projects:Principal Investigator Good-By-Devicing (ERC, European Research Council Starting Grant) (2024-2028). ERC News from DTU My Youtube-videoPrincipal Investigator of The Expertise of Expectations (Sapere Aude programme, Independent Research Fund Denmark) (2024-2028)Principal Investigator of the Co-Green Project (Independent Research Fund Denmark) on the technification-politicization of wind turbine noise (2021-2024)Sub-project Leader of EXPO-GREEN Project (Independent Research Fund Denmark, led by Professor Peter Karnøe, AAU) on the (de)legitimization of different energy sources as ‘sustainable’ over time, and the role of expertise in problematizing the value of energy resources (2021-2024) I am leading the STS-based research group in Science, Technology and Innovation in the SMP (Section for Society, Market & Policy) at DTU Wind and Energy Systems. Our STS research investigates one of the grand challenges of our time: climate change, and how to facilitate a just energy transition in the decoupling from fossil fuels, to shed new light on the multi-faceted valuations of (green) energy in a post-decarbonised society. Major technological advances have been made in the field of renewable energy within the past decades, be it in onshore and offshore wind energy, solar energy, or sector integration through Power-to-X technologies and smart energy systems. Our research is centred around the key question of how to engage the public in the energy transition in a just way, be it through co-ownership, science communication, the co-creation of renewable energy projects or through integration of heterogeneous valuations into the design tools that design the energy transition. In providing answers to these questions, the STS-group in the SMP section contributes through research of controversies over renewable energy technologies and markets, and their underlying forms of expertise, exploring and intervening in how concerns and needs can be included of those that are living with, or are concerned about, new technologies, infrastructures, and energy futures. We study this by adopting a socio-technical approach. Rooted in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) we study societal challenges as constituted by social and technical elements. We are interested in the role of expertise and communities of practice, for instance inquiring into the role of engineering and economic expertise in the drive towards optimization and cost-efficiency. Such techno-economic valuations include certain concerns and values – inscribed into design tools, scenarios, and more – while other more overarching values and concerns tend to be excluded. In our approach we seek to move beyond the usual suspects of ‘NIMBY’-explanations, to explore the design phases where experts and scientists do modelling, simulations, and market designs, to understand how they mobilise and configure a certain space for the public, shaping expectations for particular technological futures, but also sometimes exacerbating conflict as they exclude concerns of the public. We thus focus not only on the planning and development phases, but also look at the design phase, as well as the end-of-life phase, probing a ‘life-cycle approach’ to the grand challenge of social acceptance of renewables (see Kirkegaard et al. 2023). We therefore explore and challenge how things are being done in the ‘laboratory’ of e.g. scientists, engineers, economists, planners, state agencies, and project developers – probing underlying valuations of efficiency, growth, and more.  Our approach is explorative and in contrast to most STS-environments around the world that look at the ‘laboratories’ of different experts from the outside, we look at it from within – working with and in the laboratory of engineers and economists on a daily basis in the department of Wind and Energy Systems at DTU. This meeting of various disciplines, while creating tension at times, provides a rich source of data points and understandings on how knowledge and is co-produced by particular ways of knowing, shaping the problems and solutions that can be imagined. Aiming to push these boundaries, and to engage engineers and economists in co-production, we use qualitative data and cater for reflexive interventionist methods, basing our research on ethnographic fieldwork (interviews, observations), workshops, video analysis, and diary studies to create a rich picture of the epistemological tensions and valuation struggles playing out between different disciplines, as well as between ‘experts’ and ‘lay people’ in the energy transition. Indeed, some forms of knowledge have more legitimacy than others. For the energy transition to become ‘just’, there are many more layers to delve into understand than the evident provision of community benefits and public engagement. We need to look beyond and behind otherwise dominating and rather unquestioned explanations to understand how and why renewable energy technology innovations have come to be designed and deployed the way they have, to understand whose concerns and values have been catered to, and whose concerns come to matter. Finally, our approach to innovation in the energy transition is interventionist, using co-creation and co-production workshops. We study innovation processes where the public and alternative forms of expertise take an active role in development and implementation of renewable energies. At the same time, we feed our findings back to practitioners (e.g., developers, municipalities) and decision-makers (e.g. policymakers, Danish Energy Agency) in civil society, government institutions and companies. We thus seek to aid the development of new ways of bringing together engineers, policymakers and citizens, project developers, investors, NGOs and local communities, to work jointly towards useful technology and green societies that are livable for the many.