Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Renewable energy production replaces diminishing non-renewable energy sources including fossil fuels. Major sources of renewable energy include biofuels, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar thermal and photovoltaic, wind, wood, and biomass. Greater use of renewable energy sources can fill gaps in energy as non-renewable sources are depleted, provide more energy independence at a state and national level, and help address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from combustion of fossil fuels. The research objectives of this thesis are two-fold. First, which U.S. states are leaders in renewable energy production? Second, what factors may account for variation among U.S. states in levels of renewable energy production? The five state leaders in production of renewable energy are Washington, California, Iowa, New York, and Texas. Potential influences on renewable energy production include these factors: total energy importation or exportation by state, education level of residents, retail electricity cost, gross state product, poverty level, total population, along with indicators of political and religious ideology including Republican presidential voting, belief in God, and renewable energy potential. A Pearson correlation analysis was conducted to identify multi-collinearity between the independent variables and a factor analysis was used to explore possible associations between all variables. Finally, linear regression analysis is conducted to identify those independent variables significantly associated with the dependent variable, renewable energy production levels for each state. Factors found to be associated with higher renewable energy production are a larger state economy as measured by higher gross state product (GSP) and greater renewable energy potential. The analysis yields insights into the conditions under which U.S. states are more likely to produce higher levels of renewable energy, relevant information for state and federal planning for increased energy independence and greenhouse gas reduction.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret