Geography ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-17-2017


Renewable energy is on the verge of becoming a significant source of power generation and for many Americans, that will mean thinking and talking about energy technologies in new ways. Land intensive energies such as solar and green will compete more and more with aspects of our social world. This project focuses on the perception, acceptance, and discourse of renewable energy projects by examining the solar energy conversation in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado. This vast high-desert valley holds the excellent geographic conditions needed for the siting of large solar energy installations, but such projects continue to run into local resistance despite wide support for the idea both locally and nationally. This project uses Q methodology to study residents’ perceptions of solar energy projects. There are few studies using this technique to approach perception of energy projects. The results of this study reveal important perspectives about consensus for solar energy grounded in drastically different discourses. The results of this study contribute to the greater academic literature regarding energy’s place in our society and offer tools for planners, energy geographers, and the communities themselves to make decisions regarding energy generation going forward.

Degree Name


Department Name


Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

Chris Duvall

Second Committee Member

Maria Lane

Third Committee Member

Tema Milstein

Document Type





Q methodology, Solar Energy, Colorado, Qualitative Methods