The European Union recently decided to relax its prioritization of renewable energy development, which has drawn praise and criticism from the supporting factions on both sides of the issue. Regardless of what is or is not the fastest path to innovation in this area, we’ve got plenty of reason to believe that renewable energy advances will continue, regardless of extra stimuli from government. Here’s why.
3 Reasons Renewable Energy Will Keep Advancing Despite Europe’s Decision
1. Awareness and momentum. Before we get into the specific reasons why renewable energy will continue to advance, there’s a broader reason behind our opinion: it’s hard to stop something that’s in full motion, with high consumer awareness levels toward renewable energy. More citizens than ever are aware of our collective impact on the environment.
Assuming that the prevailing opinions reflect a concern for renewable energy (which they currently do), then a higher amount of consumer awareness should result in a consistent level of support for private and public initiatives toward sustainable sources of energy that do less damage to the very fragile ecosystems they live in.
2. Energy is getting expensive. Beyond the environmental expense in the form of irreversible damages, there’s a very real financial cost of our existing energy sources. To take the example of automobile fuel, which is almost entirely a nonrenewable source of energy, it’s commonly understood that the price of oil affects how much money people earn, save, and spend in their daily lives.
Expensive energy sources are difficult to deal with for most people, and when they’re non-renewable, it’s unlikely for those costs to go down. It’s no secret that the companies that provide our current sources of energy are recording unprecedented levels of profits, and that only goes to prove more of what consumers fear.
3. Online buying and collaboration. Especially in conjunction with our earlier point about the increase in energy costs and the strain on our collective wallets, online buying has emerged as a powerful new force when it comes to building innovations. Since innovations are typically considered to be extra expenditures, budgets are limited.
Innovation typically has a multitude of stages, from the earliest research stages, to initial prototyping, to testing, to redesign. At every point of that process, costs are incurred, and there are now ways of utilizing the internet’s connected workforce and suppliers to lower those costs to the innovators.
After successful development, there’s a new series of stages in actual adoption and usage of the new technologies. Just because a new alternative is available, that doesn’t mean that consumers (the majority of whom are resistant to change) will adopt the new tools and habits.
Electric automobiles are a great example of this phenomenon. First there are early adopters, then what’s called the “early majority” of adopters, then the “late majority”, and finally, the reluctant adopters of change. Sometimes the reluctant adopters are forced to change due to a lack of the old tools, but often, they’re nudged by the price advantages of switching to new technologies. And that’s why it’s vital for renewable energy innovations to be developed at a decreasing cost to both the innovator and the consumer.
Luckily, thanks in part to suppliers who utilize just-in-time manufacturing and large-scale custom orders, the cost to build innovations has dropped significantly. As a result, we can build more things, test more things, and implement more things in the way of renewable energy. Combine this with the forces of momentum and collaboration, and it’s easy to see why energy innovation will continue.