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NCCOS Research Project

Assessing Social Values Relative to Offshore Wind Energy Areas in North & South Carolina

This project began in October 2015 and is Ongoing

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM’s) Office of Renewable Energy Programs oversees development of offshore renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). BOEM has identified wind energy areas (WEAs) on the OCS of North Carolina, and is in the process of locating WEAs in South Carolina. NCCOS is assessing the values and activities of coastal residents, to characterize and monitor the complex interactions between society, the environment, and energy development projects.

Why We Care
Few studies focus on the importance of environmental values and place-based attachment in mediating community support for, or opposition to, offshore wind energy development. Additionally, little research has explored the relationship between social values, support for or opposition to offshore wind energy development, and propensity for protective action. These gaps in information limit our understanding about the effect of offshore wind energy development on coastal communities. Researchers with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) will determine how a multitude of social factors influence community support for or opposition to offshore wind energy.

What We Are Doing
This study focuses on a portion of the Carolina coast, spanning the coastal region of southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina, where BOEM is at varying stages of proposing offshore areas for wind energy development. The study region includes residents within 20 miles of the coast in Brunswick, Columbus, Pender, and New Hanover Counties in North Carolina, and Horry County in South Carolina.

NCCOS will conduct a randomly sampled household mail-based survey to collect information about residents’ attitudes, beliefs, and values related to marine and coastal landscapes, alternative energy production options, and offshore wind energy development.

This project is a collaborative effort between NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), BOEM’s Office of Renewable Energy Programs (OREP), and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management.

Benefits/Impact of Our Work
This study will provide BOEM and NOAA with an enhanced understanding of the relationship between the use of marine space, the type and intensity of place-based attachments, and the likelihood of local engagement in social action to support or oppose renewable energy projects.

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NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
1305 East West Highway, Rm 8110
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (240) 533-0300 / Fax: (301) 713-4353
Email: nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov

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