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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Marissa Mann '11

Studies Wind Energy

Marissa Mann is a senior business administration major with a minor in environmental studies from Southampton, N.Y. She is presenting her research comparing wind energy usage in Denmark and the United States at W&L's Science, Society and the Arts conference on March 4, 2011.

View the complete conference schedule

Describe your research project. How did you become interested in the topic?

I am studying the wind energy industry and energy generation in Denmark and the United States. Currently, Denmark is the world's leader in wind energy initiatives and export. Much of this success is due to an aggressive renewable energy policy in Denmark, which is in sharp contrast with a relatively non-existent renewable energy policy in the United States. My project will conclude with policy suggestions that are viable for the United States.

I became interested in this topic after visiting Vestas, the world's largest manufacturer and servicer of wind turbines, with my European Business Strategy class during my studies in Denmark in Winter 2010. Because global climate change is becoming an increasingly pressing issue, carbon-neutral renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, must be incorporated into each country's generation and consumption practices to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

How did you go about researching your topic?

I used many of the academic search engines provided by Washington and Lee, and primarily relied on journals that focused on energy policy and technology, such as Energy Policy, Environmental Science and Technology, and The Danish Wind Energy Association. I also conducted research on country-specific sites such as the Danish Energy Association, The United States Energy Administration, and the American Wind and Energy Association. I have also reached out to contacts I made during my visit at Vestas and individuals who have studied policy implications related to Corporate Social Responsibility and environmental sustainability. I anticipate that these individuals will serve as invaluable primary sources to further develop my research and policy suggestions.

What will people find most surprising about your research?

In my research I was very interested to discover that, while the United States has one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emission rates, there are currently no long-term policies to aid the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources. Additionally, the United States was the global leader in wind energy for the first half of the 1980s but has since significantly fallen behind both Europe and Asia in wind energy implementation and development. This is primarily due to increasingly aggressive European policies for wind energy development coupled with the lack of long-term policies and expiration of short-term policies in the United States, leading to a stagnation of turbine manufacture.

What have you gained from this process?

As the culmination of my studies at Washington and Lee, this research project has allowed me to use the researching, writing, and analytical skills I have acquired in college. It has also allowed me to combine aspects of my two academic focuses: Environmental Studies and Business Administration.