Power to the people: The role of citizens in the transition to renewables

You’ve thought about it, and you’re now ready to transition to renewable sources of energy in your day-to-day life. What does that look like, and what are the considerations?

As it turns out, not many people know how to make the transition happen in their lives . . . or if it’s even possible.

But it is possible—and whether it’s installing solar panels on your roof or joining a collective to raise funds to install a wind turbine, there are concrete examples around the world of citizens leading the transition to renewable energy sources.

In countries like Germany and Denmark, renewables represent a significant proportion of the electricity supply. Remarkably, many of these renewables are the result of investments by ordinary citizens.

According to an article in Deutsche Welle (DW), “citizens’ energy” accounts for around half of Germany’s renewable power capacity and about 80 per cent in Denmark.

Both countries provided incentives for people to encourage the production of renewable energy.

Experts say that when people get involved, they not only expand the renewable network but help the general public accept the transition. Take wind, for example. Wind power has been known to face opposition from local communities due to the size of turbines, but if it’s your neighbor proposing it, the concept might be easier to accept and understand.

A larger-scale initiative driven by the community can be found the German village of Feldheim, about an hour south of Berlin. Feldheim, with a population of 125, generates 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources – and its residents played a major role in this achievement.

A number of variables made Feldheim unique. For example, to get started, residents of the village each had to pay 3,000 Euros—making it a model that may not be easily replicated on that scale.

If you’ve got an interest in renewables for your home or community, you’re likely facing a complex undertaking.  During your research make sure to check to see what incentives might be available to you to help with costs.

Here are some resources for you to help start your search:

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With all the various types of offsets available, it’s a good idea to check if the offset is verified by an independent body.

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