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Wave energy and public opinion in the state of Oregon, U.S.A.

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1 Author(s)
Maria Stefanovich ; Oregon State University, 300C Gilkey Hall Corvallis, Oregon 97331

Countries have been developing renewable energies for quite some time now, and people are starting to think of them as being affordable, readily available, and good for the environment. The time has come to develop wave energy. Governments around the world are finally seeing the benefits of its unstoppable grace and power and are starting to account for it in their renewable energy portfolios. There is one huge potential problem, however, and that is "public acceptability". Even though public acceptability is not a new phenomenon - it has often been encountered with new technologies and even new things there is one unique factor this time. It is the common space hugging the continents called the ocean. The traditional ocean uses, especially within three miles of the coastline in the U.S., do not include energy extraction. The question becomes how this new need for harnessing ocean power and turning it into electricity is going to fit within the existing array of ocean uses - fishing, recreation, transportation, aesthetics, and marine life conservation. The state of Oregon, U.S.A., has been identified as the most suitable place for wave energy development of all 23 coastal states in the United States. Today, however, almost five years after the EPRI study was published, there is not a single commercial wave energy project in the waters off Oregon. Why? Does public opinion have anything to do with it? How should public opinion be interpreted? This study provides some insight and understanding about the determinants of public opinion with regard to renewable energy, the role these determinants play in public opinion formulation, and their relative importance in citizens' support of or opposition toward wave energy development in Oregon. The findings of a statewide survey reveal that the typical respondent is supportive of wave energy development, even though s/he does not consider herself/himself well informed about renewable energy, and that s/he is least knowledgeab- le about wave energy of all renewable options. These results indicate that increased outreach efforts for wave energy are warranted; especially considering the fact that 83% of respondents believe it is "possible to increase energy supplies while protecting the environment at the same time".

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Date of Conference:

26-29 Oct. 2009