2018-2019 Global Development Studies Senior Thesis Projects

Austin Bosworth '19


Project Title: The Impacts of Urban-Rural Dynamics on Renewable Energy Development: A Comparative Study of the US, China, and Denmark

Summary: This thesis interrogates the relationship between regional spheres of support for renewable energy development, specifically wind, and its relation to urban metropoles outsourcing the environmental and economic impacts to its rural peripheries. In comparing the wind energy development paths of the US, Denmark, and China, I argue that due to the sprawled nature of wind farms, it is necessary to understand the regional political will that promotes rural wind development and the economic impacts that arise from development in order to understand the barriers faced by wind energy projects in rural contexts. I gather two broad lessons from these case countries: first, long term and transparent siting processes are necessary for community engagement and the mitigation of environmental impacts. Second, the tools by which local communities may capture a larger share of the economic activity, be it through mandatory stakes in the development process, land rental agreements or local ownership.