Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Environmental Resources & Policy

First Advisor

Schoof, Justin

Abstract

Rapid deployment of terrestrial wind power plants (WPPs) is a function of accurate identification of areas suitable for WPPs. Efficient WPP site prospecting not only decreases installation lead time, but also reduces site selection expenses and provides faster reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Combining conventional predictor variables, such as wind strength and proximity to transmission lines, with nonconventional socioeconomic and demographic predictor variables, will result in improved identification of suitable counties for WPPs and therefore accelerate the site prospecting phase of wind power plant deployment. Existing and under-construction American terrestrial WPPs located in the top 12 windiest states (230 as of June 2009) plus 178 potential county level predictor variables are introduced to logistic regression with stepwise selection and a random sampling validation methodology to identify influential predictor variables. In addition to the wind resource and proximity to electricity transmission lines, existence of a Renewable Portfolio Standard, the population density within a 200 mile radius of the county center, median home values, and farm land area in the county are the four strongest nonconventional predictors (Hosmer and Lemeshow Chi-Square = 9.1250, N = 1009, df = 8, p = 0.3319, - 2LogLikelihood = 619.521). Evaluation of the final model using multiple statistics, including the Heidke skill score (0.2647), confirms overall model predictive skill. The model identifies the existence of 238 suitable counties in the twelve state region that do not possess WPPs (~73% validated overall accuracy) and eliminates 654 counties that are not classified as suitable for WPPs. The 238 counties identified by the model represent ideal counties for further exploration of WPP development and possible transmission line construction. The results of this study will therefore allow faster integration of renewable energy sources and limit climate change impacts from increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

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