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.
For renewable energy companies and developers alike, a lengthy delay in the approval stages of a project can be costly. When time is money, it is important for companies to allocate their resources to the best of their abilities to maximize the likelihood of a successful project approval. Companies that neglect to form a comprehensive public affairs strategy to depict the ways in which renewable energy projects can be integrated into the community often face project delays, or cancellations altogether, especially when opponents of the project have built a strong campaign. To avoid such risk, companies need to rally their supporters in smart, innovative ways such as direct engagement via social media.
European Union policymakers have put forth an objective that promotes an increase in the use of renewable energy sources to achieve 27 percent renewable generation by 2030. In line with this goal, the EU’s wind industry has grown annually since 1995.
More and more companies are realizing that the prioritization of safe, reliable energy methods is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By using the Earth’s natural, predictable energy from tidal power, we can generate reliable electricity while conserving other resources.
For millennia, humans have burned biological material as an energy source. Biomass, composed predominately of plants and microorganisms, has made a resurgence in recent decades as a sustainable form of energy. Biomass facilities provide communities with this sustainable form of energy while also providing new jobs and a new source of tax revenue upon a facility’s completion. However, not ever community is welcoming of a biomass facility due to concerns regarding air quality, increased construction traffic, and its sheer aesthetic impact on neighborhoods. NIMBY, or “not in my backyard,” opponents to biomass facilities across the United States and United Kingdom run fierce opposition campaigns, significantly delaying project completion or even causing cancellation. However, certain tactics can be employed to ensure a greater likelihood of gaining public approval for biomass facilities so that companies can avoid drawn-out battles with opponents.
Not every community wants a composting facility in its area because of concerns about potential contamination of the environment, the facility’s large footprint or the possibility of undesirable odors, among other reasons. Therefore, proposed composting facilities across the U.S. are met with constant opposition from local communities, delaying their approval or blocking the facility from being built altogether.
Tension between mining companies and opponents can stall or even stop a project completely. Many call this “NIMBY” – which stands for “Not in My Backyard,” and NIMBY’s represent groups in communities who often debate nearby developments.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) characterizes the investment spurred by the Production Tax Credit (PTC) as the “predominant driver of wind energy development over the past decade.” Throughout 2013, President Obama noted the significance of the PTC as he advocated to make it a permanent part of a more comprehensive tax overhaul package in an effort to double the amount of renewable energy generated by the United States by 2020. However, with a United States Congress seemingly prone to eleventh hour decision making, wind and other renewable energy companies were once again left uncertain about the future of their development projects as 2013 came to a close.
With a demand that is expected to double by 2030, Europe’s LNG industry is currently experiencing rapid growth. Import facilities are now cropping up throughout Europe as LNG creates opportunities for energy security outside of the traditional bounds of pipelines.
As the anti-development movement continues to spread across communities throughout the U.S., it is affecting “business as usual” in more industries than ever before. Dissent within communities can arise instantly to oppose any type of development from wind and solar projects to real estate and housing developments and everything in between.
Since the 1970s, California has taken the initiative to increase opportunities for renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels. Progressive legislation and ideal land conditions have allowed for California businesses and residents to see the positive effects that renewable energy sources can bring, but this first-hand experience has also brought with it public opposition to large-scale projects in the California deserts.
An ambitious domestic energy plan is being pursued by German Chancellor Angela Merkel following the Fukushima Nuclear Plant fall out in 2011: phase-out nuclear and coal-powered energy plants for a complete shift to renewable energy sources.
Opposition to large scale industrial energy projects in China gives rise to increased support for renewables
As the world’s most populous country, China is already the largest consumer of energy in the world. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China alone accounts for half of the global consumption of coal and is the second largest consumer of oil, driving criticism of the country’s energy practices from many parts of the world.
Biofuel projects continue to be met with NIMBY-type groups protesting companies’ efforts to start new projects. Although these projects can create plenty of jobs, they are met by opposition groups who cite various concerns.
Biomass projects continue to be met with NIMBY-type groups protesting companies’ efforts to start new projects. Although these projects can create plenty of jobs, they are met by opposition groups who cite various concerns. For example, a biomass project in Greenfield, Mass., was met with local opposition due to the noise and disruption the project would have on the surrounding community.
Wave power is being talked about more and more recently, as a way to harness energy from the ocean’s waves by using a large buoy like structure below and above the water’s surface. This renewable energy tactic has been opposed by different environmental groups, community leaders, and the general public for various reasons.
Despite promises for strong economic help in a recovering economy, LNG projects continue to face opposition among NIMBY-type groups. In the Chesapeake Bay, the proposed Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal is facing heavy opposition from groups that include the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and many others concerned with the ecological impacts on the Chesapeake Bay.
Opposition from NIMBY-type (not in my backyard) groups continue to slow down development of hydropower projects. Although hydropower plants are a source of complete renewable energy, employ around 300,000 workers in the United States, and are responsible for about 7 percent of total United States electricity, further hydropower development continues to be faced with resistance.
Offshore wind projects, though they are environmentally friendly and create electricity through wind, still face opposition from NIMBY (not in my backyard) groups. Many offshore wind projects have and still are facing opposition today.
After being in the public affairs business for nearly twenty years, it still amazes me how few developers and companies use random sample polling when launching a public affairs campaign to gain support for projects. A random sample poll allows for developers to inquire into popular opinion in order to be better prepared in utilizing public support and combating cases of opposition.
Renewable energy projects are constantly being stalled due to opposition within communities, or the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) phenomenon. Though renewable energy projects face opposition, these projects are not the only ones.
All over the world renewable energy projects are being delayed or stopped entirely due to the NIMBY or “not in my backyard” phenomenon, this is a case that often involves people in communities who stall developments in their areas due to a variety of reasons.
The article below was Published January 2013 in Renewable Energy Magazine. Click to view the published article When the State of Vermont seeks a moratorium on wind energy projects, you know you have a problem. Traditionally one of the United States’ most progressive states, the “Green Mountain State” currently is seeking a two year moratorium … Read more
Public opposition to airport developments is inescapable. Whether it’s a new airport development being brought to a location where it’s desperately needed or an expansion to an existing airport to keep up with demand, public opposition almost always shortly follows. And it happens everywhere.
NIMBY (Or “not in my backyard”) opposition is often formed to keep large scale projects out of communities. Opposition is common in industries such as landfills, quarries, chemical plants, and major power lines. In recent years, the battlefields are spreading to renewable energy industries like wind farms, solar energy, and biomass.
Public opposition to development, often called “NIMBYism” or “not in my backyard” syndrome, is growing quickly around the world, It consists of citizens who often claim to represent the voice of the community where often large scale development is taking place. NIMBYism is often the fear of unknown.
Tension between developers and opposition can stall or even stop a project completely. NIMBY stands for “Not In My Back Yard,” and Nimbys represent groups in communities who debate over nearby developments.
Handling corporate public relations is Al Maiorino’s bread and butter. As he explains, the upfront cost of a few thousand dollars for public relation services can be a small price to pay for the hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in expenses that could result from delays in clean energy projects due to public opposition.
When planning a new clean energy project, a company is expected to juggle many concerns. Between getting all the permits approved, getting the right equipment, and hiring the right people, it seems like hiring a public affairs firm is the last thing on a company’s list of concerns.