ORCID Identifier(s)

0000-0003-3533-0432

Graduation Semester and Year

2018

Language

English

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Earth and Environmental Science

Department

Earth and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Melanie L Sattler

Abstract

There is much known about renewable energy including solar and wind. However, there is little information available regarding the use of wind and solar energy on college and university campuses. As educators and shapers of the next generation of society, colleges and universities can be important leaders in the transitioning to renewable energy, and in educating their students about renewable energy. In addition, college and university campuses are in an economic downfall now, with the high costs of education and decreased state funding. Institutions of higher education must find ways to save money and decrease costs; utility bills could potentially be reduced by using cutting-edge technologies of renewable energy. The overall goal of this research was thus to identify benefits and obstacles to installation of wind and solar energy on college and university campuses. Texas was selected not only because the University of Texas at Arlington is located in Texas , and thus traveling to other universities in Texas for the case studies was convenient, but also because Texas is the leading state of production of wind power , and also has large potential for production of solar power. In addition, Texas has a large number of colleges and universities to survey. This research study can help a college or university that is considering using solar or wind power to make a sound decision. This study will be of value to various university personnel, including sustainability directors, physical operations personnel, and faculty remembers. This study used an exploratory sequential mixed methods approach. In the first phase, interviews were conducted with the Sustainability Directors from 3 universities in Texas that have already installed solar and/or wind power: the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, and the University of Texas at Arlington. The themes identified from these interviews were then used to develop quantitative survey questions regarding potential benefits and obstacles to installation of solar and wind power on university campuses. The surveys were then sent to 59 colleges and universities across Texas. Twelve survey responses were received. Important themes that emerged from the interviews were 1) the importance of renewable energy for the environment, 2) green publicity, 3) opportunities for teaching and research, 4) the need for financial savings, and 5) the need for grant funding. Selected findings from the quantitative survey were: • Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that installing wind or solar power on campus would make for good publicity for the college or university (92%), would attract students to the school (83%), and would be good teaching tools for students on campus (100%). • The colleges and universities surveyed were more likely to think that that solar power would save them money (83%) compared to wind power (58%). • Large schools (> 10,000 students) and 4-year schools were more likely to believe that renewable power could be a useful research tool at their university. • The primary obstacle to installing solar panels and wind turbines on university campuses is up-front costs. Providing additional grant funding and incentives is critical in overcoming this hurdle. Secondary concerns include availability of wind power and the potential for both solar panels and wind turbines to be eye-sores.

Keywords

Sustainability, Renewable energy, Solar energy, Wind, Wind farms, Photovoltaic cells, Solar panels

Disciplines

Earth Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics

Comments

Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Share

COinS