Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Studies

Committee Director

Peter Schulman

Committee Member

Austin Jersild

Committee Member

Glen Sussman


Increasing CO2 emissions have led to extreme weather phenomena labeled as climate change. Energy consumption and the burning of fossil fuels are primary contributors to climate change, which necessitates finding ways to decrease fossil fuel consumption critical to preserving the planet while helping nations reduce dependence on costly fossil fuels. Renewable energy is one part of the solution to reducing CO2 emissions. Wind energy is the fastest growing form of renewable energy across the world and within the U.S., but the key factors that enabled the U.S. wind industry to grow from zero installed capacity at the beginning of 1981 to enough capacity to power 25 million average U.S. homes by the end of 2016 remain unclear. This dissertation examines the wind industry growth and identifies the factors of public opinion, presidential leadership, state incentives and mandates, technological developments, and fossil fuel prices as crucial to wind energy development in the U.S.