Changing Tides: Acceptability, support, and perceptions of tidal energy in the United States
Tidal energy is a renewable energy source that could be used to help mitigate climate change. Tidal energy technology is in the early stages of development and views towards this technology and energy source are not well understood. Through a representative mail survey of Washington State residents, we assessed attitudes and behaviors related to tidal energy, perceived benefits and risks, and climate change beliefs. Higher levels of perceived benefits and climate change beliefs were associated with increased acceptability of and support for tidal energy whereas greater perceived risks were associated with decreased acceptability and support (acceptability being an attitudinal construct, support a behavioral construct). Coastal residents reported higher levels of acceptability and support than non-coastal residents. Pulling from innovation theory, we show that levels of support depended upon the development lifecycle stage of the technology. Support declined once the project moved into the water from the lab, however, grid-connected pilot projects were more likely to be supported than those without grid-connection. Policies developed to encourage the development of tidal energy may be more accepted and supported if they include incentives for pilot phases with grid-connection.