Date of Award
Master of Arts in Marine Affairs
Harnessing wind offshore is an increasingly prevalent form of renewable energy production. For these large offshore wind farms to be successful, there must be a reasonable level of social acceptance for the developments. There is a great deal of research around how to measure social acceptance of renewable energy developments, but as of yet there has not been a large, utility-scale offshore wind farm in the United States to examine. This study uses a well cited framework created in 2012 by researchers Sovacool and Ratan to measure levels of social acceptance in Massachusetts of the proposed Vineyard Wind development, which is an 800 megawatt offshore wind farm that has agreed to sell power to the State of Massachusetts.
Findings from this study show that while the framework proves a useful tool for measuring levels of social acceptance, some categories lack applicability to large-scale offshore wind in the U.S. This is particularly apparent with regard to the role of national versus state policy and support, the dearth of community or individual ownership and/or control, and the insufficient analysis of opposition opinion. While key informants of Massachusetts have a net positive view of the proposed Vineyard Wind project, this support is nuanced and multi-layered. This study highlights the fact that separating individuals into one of two categories - supportive or resistant - does not accurately represent the truth and woefully oversimplifies a complex topic.
This study utilized a qualitative method of data collection through a series of semi-structured interviews conducted through the Spring and Summer of 2018. These interviews provided data which could then be coded and sorted into the categories defined by Sovacool and Ratan. This analysis helped identify indicators and evidence of support that were used to assess each section of the framework and determine if and how well a specific criterion was met.
Buck, Jamie, "INDICATORS OF SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT IN MASSACHUSETTS: ASSESSING THE COMMONWEALTH’S CURRENT SOCIO-POLITICAL, MARKET AND COMMUNITY CONDITIONS" (2019). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1746.