The implementation of wind energy policies in Australia and the United States

Bradley, Erika Marie (2012) The implementation of wind energy policies in Australia and the United States. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Renewable energy technologies are increasingly seen as viable alternative energy sources to fix economic, security and environmental problems associated with the continued utilization of fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Available global data suggests that wind energy has been growing fastest among renewable energy technologies. Yet, there are startling variations among different nations. This thesis will explore the implementation of wind energy policies in the United States and Australia. In particular, it seeks to unravel the puzzle as to why we observe such marked differences in the growth of wind energy in both countries. This is despite similar levels of wind resources and, amongst other things, are similar in both being federal democracies and strong industrialized economies. Drawing on an institutional approach to political science, it aimed to discover the differences by using two major approaches to implementation analysis: top-down and bottom-up approaches.

The top-down approach emphasizes the structures and mechanisms used by government institutions in implementing policy goals. In contrast, the bottom-up approach focuses on the interactions among the network of actors involved in implementation and how this influences policy outcomes. The results showed that it is the interaction of the top-down and bottom-up approaches that allowed for the United States to have a faster adoption rate than Australia. From the top-down approach, the existence and nature of the legislation including the economic mechanisms used proved to be more effective in implementing wind energy in the US than what is used in Australia. It was the combination of a number of pieces of legislation which set in place economic mechanisms and regulation and that these were available at the state and federal levels which proved to be a large facilitator to the wind industry in the US. The nature of Australia's legislation does not prove to be enough of an incentive for significant growth of the industry. In addition to the top-down, variables from the bottom-up proved to be important. The network of actors in the United States is larger and plays a more active role in facilitating the implementation of wind energy. There is a main trade association for the wind industry (AWEA) which works closely with government to assure the industries needs are being met. This is seen through the continuation of the Production Tax Credit and strong political support for the industry. The interaction of AWEA among other groups with government has allowed for the continuation of the PTC which is a large facilitator for the development of the wind industry. If it were not for the network of actors, these formal government mechanisms would not be in place. Furthermore, were it not for these formal government mechanisms, inter-market competition would not be as strong. Compared to Australia, the United States has legislation that works to create incentives and a competitive market for wind energy, in addition to a network of actors involved in implementation and has the ability to influence government to provide the incentives that allow the wind industry to grow. A comparative analysis has shown that the nature of the legislation and the network of actors are what have allowed the United States to have faster implementation of wind energy than Australia.

This thesis will show the importance of applying both the top-down and bottom-up approaches to implementation theory which has not been used explicitly for these two countries in this context before. In addition this thesis used applied implementation analysis which has not been done on wind energy policies in these two countries comparatively. This thesis, by applying top-down and bottom-up approaches, sought to enhance the understanding of wind energy policy implementation in a comparative context.

Item ID: 26971
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: Australia, policy implementation, renewable energy policies, renewable technologies, startup incentives, technology introduction, United States, USA, wind energy
Date Deposited: 27 May 2013 04:28
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160507 Environment Policy @ 34%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160511 Research, Science and Technology Policy @ 33%
09 ENGINEERING > 0907 Environmental Engineering > 090703 Environmental Technologies @ 33%
SEO Codes: 85 ENERGY > 8505 Renewable Energy > 850509 Wind Energy @ 34%
85 ENERGY > 8598 Environmentally Sustainable Energy Activities > 859899 Environmentally Sustainable Energy Activities not elsewhere classified @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960799 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards not elsewhere classified @ 33%
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