Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Geography

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Michael Buzzelli

Abstract

The goal of this thesis is to gain an understanding of the factors promoting and hindering wind energy development (henceforth WED) from the perspective of communities and developers in Ontario. Ontario arguably has one of the most ambitious policies for WED in the world, centered on the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 (henceforth GEA). Despite progressing to become Canada’s leading province in installed wind energy capacity, various conflicts and roadblocks to deployment remain evident.

In response to gaps identified in literature seeking to understand the factors that impact the (un)successful deployment of wind power, the current thesis provides multiple methodological roadmaps for gaining a more holistic understanding of WED through media analysis. Specific to the Ontario context, the thesis aims to understand the factors that promote or hinder community support for WED. As well, the goal is to understand the factors promoting or hindering the activities of wind energy developers within the province. The aforementioned objectives are addressed through media content analysis and semi-structured interviews respectively.

While results from the media analysis suggests that social acceptance is most strongly impacted by health and economic factors, developer interviews suggest that the elimination of local planning for WED has created major disconnects between developers and host communities. This disconnect has consequently compromised the deployment of the technology.

The study makes methodological, theoretical and policy contributions to existing literature on WED. Methodologically, the study demonstrates the efficacy of media content analysis for understanding the temporal evolution of social responses to WED and developing interview instruments. The study also provides an original methodological protocol for the utilization of media analysis to understand WED. Theoretically, the study demonstrates the utility of holistic approaches for teasing out the most salient determinants of WED and policy outcomes. Finally, the study highlights the importance of community engagement in the WED process. As well, it demonstrates the need for detailed policies to guide developers and communities in their engagement with each other.

Available for download on Monday, December 31, 2018


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