Ocean beliefs and support for an offshore wind energy project

David Bidwell
Ongoing Documentary Film Grant from the National Science Foundation

Wind turbines located in the ocean contribute to the ongoing global transition to renewable sources of electricity, but further expansion of this technology will depend as much on social acceptance as on technological know-how. This article explores how underlying values and beliefs about the ocean influence public support for offshore wind energy. An intercept survey was conducted with more than 600 individuals on Block Island, site of the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Following a values-beliefs-norm framework, this survey measured respondents’ underlying values, anticipated impacts of the proposed wind energy project, attachment to the island, and beliefs about the ocean. The results indicate that ocean beliefs and underlying values have direct and indirect associations with expectations and support for an offshore wind energy project development. These findings provide insights into objections that arise over offshore wind farms, by acknowledging that the probability of conflict increases when one interpretation of the marine environment is imposed on people holding different beliefs about the ocean. Understanding these dynamics and integrating them into planning dialogues may be critical for successfully navigating the broader energy transition.

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