Date of Award

12-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Committee Member

Dr. Julia L. Sharp, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Annick Anctil, Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Lori Dickes

Committee Member

Dr. Bruce Ransom

Abstract

Considered essential for countries' development, energy demand is growing worldwide. Unlike conventional sources, the use of renewable energy sources has multiple benefits, including increased energy security, sustainable economic growth, and pollution reduction, in particular greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, there is a considerable difference in the share of renewable energy sources in national energy portfolios. This dissertation contains a series of studies to provide an outlook on the existing renewable energy deployment literature and empirically identify the factors of wind energy generation capacity and wind energy policy diffusion in the U.S. The dissertation begins with a systematic literature review to identify drivers and barriers which could help in understanding the diverging paths of renewable energy deployment for countries. In the analysis, economic, environmental, and social factors are found to be drivers, whereas political, regulatory, technical potential and technological factors are not classified as either a driver or a barrier (i.e., undetermined). Each main category contains several subcategories, among which only national income is found to have a positive impact, whereas all other subcategories are considered undetermined. No significant barriers to the deployment of renewable energy sources are found over the analyzed period. Wind energy deployment within the states related to environmental and economic factors was seldom discussed in the literature. The second study of the dissertation is thus focused on the wind energy deployment in the United States. Wind energy is among the most promising clean energy sources and the United States has led the world in per capita newly installed generation capacity since 2000. In the second study, using a fixed-effects panel data regression analysis, the significance of a number of economic and environmental factors are investigated for 39 states from 2000 to 2015. The results suggested that the increase in economic factors is related to a significant increase in the installed wind energy capacity, whereas, the increase in environmental factors is related to a significant decrease in the installed wind capacity. The final study explores the factors of diffusion of state- and local-level wind energy support policies which are considered fundamental factors of the continuum and development of wind power in the United States. To reveal the internal determinants of state's wind energy policy diffusion, we further narrow the scope and control for the geographical region in the final study. We limit our analysis to seven neighboring Midwestern states, which are located in the center of United States wind energy corridor. Using data from 2008 to 2015, the study investigates the significance of the following internal factors: wind power potential, per capita gross state product, unemployment rate, per capita value of the agriculture sector, number of establishments in agricultural sector, and state government control. Through the addition of interaction terms, the study also considers the behavioral differences in the explanatory variables under Republican and non-Republican state governance. Our findings suggest that the economic development potential and related environmental benefits were the common motivation for state- and local-level policy makers. Lastly, technical terms and agricultural sector presence provides additional motives for the state level diffusion of wind energy policies. The findings of this dissertation are expected to contribute to the understanding of how countries and states might best stimulate and support renewable energy, and in particular wind energy, deployment.

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