The city of Bonn, West Germany’s former capital, recently was named a leader in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In a study published by the NGO Climate Without Borders, the city’s utility company, Stadtwerke Bonn, ranked first among 20 major German municipal utility companies in their responsible use of renewable energies and the efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
With the close of the Paris Conference on Climate Change, a renewed focus has been placed on expanding the usage of renewable energy resources throughout the globe. As 2016 progresses, many political leaders and heads of state have publicly reaffirmed their commitment to this goal.
In 2015, the United States experienced its third city’s attempt to move to 100 percent renewables. Aspen, Colorado, now joins Burlington, Vermont, and Greensburg, Kansas, as the only cities to achieve 100 percent renewable energy generation in the nation. With the precedent set, one can only assume that new cities will aim to catch up in 2016. As demand for new renewable sources continues to increase, companies must use innovative strategies to make outreach to communities and build the public support needed for local officials’ approval of the new projects.
In September, I detailed the reasons why building public support for wind proposals in Lancaster County, Nebraska, should not be a “Plan B.” Just a few short months later, the County Board has adopted tough noise restrictions on wind turbines, reducing the standard noise limit from 50 to 40 decibels of noise during the day. Similarly, in Boone County, Illinois, a setback was applied to turbines, which now must be placed 2,640 feet from a property line. While these noise limits and setbacks are not outright defeats of any specific proposal during its own individual approval process, companies should be cautious of the manner in which these can derail existing and future proposals.
Geothermal energy is expanding as a sustainable power source, but the growing industry is still not without its barriers, even amongst the top geothermal producing countries. One such country, Japan, has grown its geothermal energy production to 520 MW, making it the world’s third largest producer.
However, with many projects either conceptualized or underway, various barriers that cause public opposition are still slowing down the country’s geothermal momentum. Companies across the globe can help to secure this industry growth by building public support right from the time of project announcement.
The islands of the Caribbean are not only some of the most popular tourist destinations, but they are also economically and ecologically diverse regions with growing energy needs.
The strength of each island’s tourism industry, which comprises a large portion their gross domestic product, is largely supported by the beautiful ecology that attracts visitors to their shores time and time again.
Canada is not only filled with vibrant cities but it also houses vast lands of diversified geography. From its running rivers to its windy hilltops, Canada has substantial natural resources that can be harnessed to produce renewable energy. Canada’s energy portfolio is comprised of approximately 16.9 percent renewable sources and of those renewables, solar is one of the fastest growing sustainable sources in Canada.
Despite the broadening energy portfolios of states and nations across the globe, it is still essential for companies proposing individual renewable energy projects to build public support in order to achieve the approvals they need to proceed.
Al Maiorino, outlines the grassroots strategies that are most effective in countering opposition to nuclear projects.
Megaprojects consist of development in a variety of industries, including nuclear, that aim to achieve a particularly ambitious or remarkable scale. Substantial financial investment is usually required to make such projects successful, and they can take years to complete. Due to the tremendous investment involved, megaprojects can also be very risky, as investors and the public may lose a great deal of time and resources if projects do not make it to fruition.
Pennsylvania, with its many blustery ridge tops, is seen as a prime location for wind farms by wind companies themselves as well as advocates for solutions to climate change.
The islands of the Caribbean are not only some of the most popular tourist destinations, but they are also economically and ecologically diverse regions with growing energy needs. The strength of each island’s tourism industry, which comprises a large portion their gross domestic product, is largely supported by the beautiful ecology that attracts visitors to their shores time and time again. However, the power supply across much of the Caribbean is currently generated by expensive and polluting sources, prompting many governments in the region to seek alternative sources of energy as a way to protect the environment that is cherished by visitors and natives alike. By boosting investment in renewable energy, the region can take a two-fold approach to economic development by protecting its ecologically sensitive areas to safeguard tourism, while providing affordable, reliable access to clean energy for its populations.
The current fleet of 5,008 yachts on the water is predicted to
grow to to 6,044 by 2020, according to The Superyacht Intelligence
Annual Report 2015. With more yachts on the market and
a growing demand for up-to-date facilities and services in
destinations worldwide, marinas will need to improve and
expand upon their infrastructure to keep demand for yachting
tourism high in popular cruising grounds. Al Maiorino,
president of public affairs fi rm Public Strategy Group, reports
on how to garner local support for these developments.
Indonesia is an emerging market that sees its electricity demand increase by about 10 percent per year, and thus the country needs about 6 GW per year in additional generating capacity. Indonesia’s electrification ratio — which is the percentage of Indonesian households that are connected to the nation’s electricity grid — stood at 80.38 percent at the end of 2013, implying that today there are still roughly 50 million Indonesians who lack access to electricity. As Indonesia continues to grow in terms of population and electricity use, the archipelago nation endures high hopes in expanding its geothermal output as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to coal-fired power plants.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that 2015 is off to a productive start for the solar industry.
While reports surface of projects emerging from the depths of permitting authorities’ filing cabinets, others are making a reputable case before officials and communities to approve new projects relatively soon after they are introduced.
With over 350 container terminal proposals with estimated completion dates by the end of 2020, significant growth is projected for the cargo shipping industry in the coming years. However, despite this productive outlook, the risk of public opposition causing delays or cancellations for these new facility or expansion projects remains prevalent.
Due to the opposition from local residents and alleged environmental violations, construction of a hydroelectric dam in Panama was halted in February 2015 by the Panamanian government. The $225 million hydroelectric project was expected to create at least 28 MW of energy to eventually reduce CO2 emissions, along with a significant number of new jobs and revenue.
In 2014, the United States Departments of the Navy, Energy and Agriculture awarded a $70 million grant to Red Rock Biofuels for the design, construction, commissioning and performance testing of a new biofuel refinery. The biorefinery is planned for Lakeview, Oregon, close to the Fremont Nation Forest and the intersecting state lines of Oregon, Nevada, and California.
Renewable energy in Scotland received a positive boost in October 2014 when Scottish Ministers approved plans for four offshore wind farms proposed by Scottish Renewables. The four projects, called Neart Na Geoithe, Inch Cape, Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo, are planned to be positioned east of the Fife Ness coastline and off the Angus coastline. Ultimately, these projects will generate enough energy to power 1.4 million homes, increasing the share of clean reliable energy included in Scotland’s energy portfolio.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a necessity for companies throughout the planning process for many projects, especially in the mining and energy fields. Companies seek to gain public approval for projects by including CSR benefits for the immediate community affected by the project. CSR benefits often range from community engagement strategies, such as increased employment opportunities and local involvement of small business suppliers, to major activities, such as the provision of scholarships, the building of roads, the relocation of households, etc. These benefits represent an opportunity for companies to both help raise their sustained involvement in an immediate community directly affected by a project and to positively influence stakeholders to support a project for a successful approval process.
Last month, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Beijing, President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jingping agreed to new goals aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by both countries.
A 2013 study conducted by The Environics Institute found that in Ontario, 68 percent of residents held the belief that their province could make the shift from fossil fuels to renewable power. Despite this majority of those surveyed, Ontario has experienced considerable controversy over the implementation of renewable policies since the Green Energy Act of 2009, and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s pro-wind initiatives continue to generate public scorn at speaking engagements on unrelated topics.
In 1993 the Puna Geothermal Venture power plant opened in the state of Hawaii and established the state as a leader in geothermal technology as an early adopter. The plant is designed to take advantage of the incredible heat generated by the largest volcano on earth, Mauna Loa. It has been over two decades since the opening of this first power plant, and it might be natural to assume that geothermal energy production in volcanic Hawaii has prospered since then. However, Hawaii currently has the most expensive electricity rates in the United States due to its continued dependence on imported energy.
Transylvania County in North Carolina is currently engaged in intensive internal debate about the role of biomass in their future. The current state of affairs began last year when Renewable Developers, a New York based LLC, proposed the construction of a biomass waste to energy conversion plant in the town of Penrose.
When starting a new telecommunication tower project, it is important to employ a strategic and efficient public affairs campaign to decrease the risk of public opposition from concerned locals who may not want construction to take place in their backyards. The earlier a campaign begins, the greater the likelihood of recruiting supporters who are interested in the project.
Don’t assume support for your new cell tower. Run an aggressive campaign and identify vocal supporters to outnumber opponents in petitions, letters or crowds at public hearings.
The United Kingdom may be forced to once again contend with an issue thought to be dealt with decades ago; namely, power shortages. Not since the turbulent mid 1970’s has the nation faced a capacity crisis comparable to the one looming on the horizon, and unfortunately the responsibility must be split partially between communities hostile to renewable development and a renewable energy industry unwilling or unable to reach out to them.
A May 2014 joint report from the University of Queensland Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining and the Harvard Kennedy School confirms the real costs of public opposition to development.
Although the oil industry is the United States is booming, drilling projects can face being stalled or stopped altogether when an aggressive public affairs campaign is not employed. Being able to control the message from when the project becomes public is crucial.
With 140,000 new solar installations in the U.S., 2013 turned out to be a record-setting year for the industry. Solar became the second largest source of electricity generation after natural gas. Many households are now seeking to invest in solar panels to reduce energy consumption.
The state of renewable power in America is the best it has ever been, or so we think. In actuality, the adolescent industry is under constant threat from opposing legislators. In more than a dozen states legislators seek to do away with recently passed Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) laws. These laws require the use of renewable power sources by a state’s electricity provider and are huge incentives for power providers to pursue clean tech. However, since the RPS laws have been added to the books, there have been thirty proposed bills in seventeen different states that aim to eliminate them. Now, when individual renewable projects are finally getting the chance to come to fruition, they are suddenly encountering legislative opposition that threatens their success. This pattern of legislative behavior demonstrates to the renewables industry that public affairs is about more than preparing for a groundbreaking; if projects are to succeed they must be accompanied by multiphase campaigns that remain active into and beyond the completion stage to build and maintain public and legislative support.