Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Lawrence Juda

Abstract

Offshore wind energy is now receiving substantial attention as an alternative commercial energy source. Despite the increased interest in this new technology, and the tremendous energy generating potential off the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., no projects have been installed. This study addresses three barriers to the offshore wind energy industry: (i) high upfront capital costs, (ii) extensive, and at times unclear, regulatory/approval process, and (iii) competition from conventional energy sources. The effect of current federal and state policies on these barriers was examined to assess how promotional policies and financial incentives within the region have addressed the current challenges facing an emerging offshore wind energy industry. U.S. incentives were also compared to the two leading European countries in installed offshore wind energy capacity, Denmark and the U.K., to determine in what areas U.S. incentives are lacking and how they could be improved.

Overall, it was found that the U.S. utilizes primarily financial incentives at the federal level and promotional policies at the state level, and that changes in federal policy are necessary to advance offshore wind energy. Foremost, political commitment for the industry needs to be solidified and the regulatory process streamlined. Furthermore, the U.S. requires a system for internalizing the environmental damage associated with fossil fuels, a national Renewable Portfolio Standard, and tendering system. While the U.S. has the potential to become an industry leader in offshore wind energy, it remains to be seen if the current government incentives will be sufficient support to advance this new clean energy industry.

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