Implementing Renewable Energy: 

Renewable / Sheila Sund / Creative Commons

In A Solar Manifesto, Hermann Scheer, an active advocate for green energy supplies and a previous president of the European Association for Renewable Energy, asserts that renewable energy is a viable options – but only if institutions turn towards new ways of thinking. According to Scheer, 

“key players and decision-makers of the world have become so embroiled in the labyrinth of traditional patterns… that they can no longer conceive of a way out”; the reason that support for renewable energy is currently so limited is that institutions are so adapted to current norms that they do not want to change their energy systems.”   

According to professor and researcher Henrik Lund’s idea of the “Choice Awareness Theory,” in order to implement renewable energy into our society today, we must recognize that we not only have the choice to undergo major change to our energy system, but we also have the power and need to do so. Institutions may want to maintain our current norms, and they will do their best to convince others that renewable energy is not feasible. Because of groupthink, we must be careful to not be persuaded by such institutions; instead, we need to make informed and careful decision for ourselves. We must carefully evaluate the potential of renewable energy technology as well as fossil fuel technology, consider impacts on our economy, international relations, and environment, and use this knowledge to choose the directions society will take in the future.

Once a renewable energy technology is developed and there is adequate social support, there must also be enough financial support for the technology to be widely implemented. Direct policies can facilitate immediate implementation. Price-driven regulations can award investment subsidies for implementation of renewable energy technology, and feed-in-tariffs can award fixed premiums to businesses, governments, and households that use electricity through sustainable and clean efforts. Quantity-driven regulations require businesses, governments, and households to use a certain percentage of their total electricity needs through clean energy standards.

A few countries have already attempted to implement direct policies. In the United States, renewable portfolio standards dictate the percentage of utilities that must come from clean energy. Europe, too, has its own version of renewable portfolio standards.

Conversely, indirect policies are directed towards more long-term implementation. They do not require any energy standards but aim to change behaviors through taxes and removal of subsidies for fossil fuel-generated electricity. For example, an indirect policy might impose a tax upon energy that harms the environment by releasing large amounts of carbon. 

If we can take these steps to implement renewable energy systems, renewable energy can become a feasible energy alternative that mitigates and adapts to a changing global climate. 


See what COP23 attendees had to say about implementing renewable energy systems with this video from the UNFCCC:




Photo: View of the Solar Panels / Oregon Department of Transportation / Creative Commons