Humanising the energy transition: The power of citizens
August 21, 2019
With Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future dominating climate change coverage this year, it’s clear that citizen-led sustainability is becoming more popular and more powerful. But is this also the case with sustainable energy innovations?
Extinction Rebellion uses a powerful combination of direct action and social media to re-frame the perception of the climate emergency within global power structures. At the height of their actions in the UK, they were able to convince the Scottish and Welsh governments, the Labour Party and many councils and local authorities to declare a climate emergency.
Whether it’s making a personal commitment to reduce one’s consumption of single-use plastics, or making ethical choices when it comes to booking holidays or buying clothes, citizens are participating in the sustainability movement across many spheres at a grassroots level.
Boosting sustainable energy innovations
The question is, is this citizen-led enthusiasm we see for climate change activism and responsible consumption being incorporated within the clean energy sector?
In some ways, yes, but more needs to be done. It has been found that electrical consumption is still rising globally, and although innovations in sustainable energy technologies are also increasing, their deployment it is not happening quickly enough.
A big reason for this might be lacking opportunities for citizens to connect with innovations, a space to meet many of them and start building partnerships. Luckily The Business Booster offers such a space.
For example, those attending this year’s event will get a chance to meet the Wattsun team, developers of an off-grid generator that is charged using renewable energy. This product can provide an affordable way for citizens to begin to engage with the sustainable energy movement.
But sometimes the power of many citizens needs to be harnessed to boost a project off the ground. For early stage sustainable energy innovations and start-ups, crowdfunding is a great way to prove a brand’s potential in terms of both the product or service and the size of the market. As well as generating visibility and excitement around a launch, crowdfunding recruits an army of “early users, advocates and ambassadors” who have a vested interest in the brand’s success. We will investigate the benefit of crowdfunding has had on one of our supported start-ups, eBike labs, in a future blog.
We will have one such crowdfunding company come to The Business Booster: ecoligo, a crowdinvesting platform that provides solar-as-a-service for businesses in emerging markets. By offering fixed and attractive returns to private investors they take care of financing and maintenance of projects such as a 195 kWp solar project being installed on a Medical Centre in Ghana. Since their inception they have raised over one million Euros by crowdinvestors leading to a saving of 19,137 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Be sure to meet them at The Business Booster and see how you could participate in their scheme!
So the technologies are there and The Business Booster exists. The next step is continue garnering the levels of enthusiasm that exist for the climate crisis but for sustainable energy.
One aspect that needs to improve significantly in order for the movement to take off are the skills and competencies of energy professionals- to become more human centric, rather than just focusing on technologies (this will be discussed further in our next blog: (Humanising the Energy Transition: Skills and competencies, are we prepared?).
And as a direct result of this, public involvement in the energy sector would likely shift, where regular people become energy production prosumers. The European Union has already noticed this, and they predict that by 2050, half of European households will be involved in energy production. This rise of prosumerism places the power firmly in the hands of citizens.
This topic will be discussed further during The Business Booster event where Wattsun, ecoligo and many other sustainable energy innovations will be present. In the meantime, be sure to follow #TBB2019 over on social media to make sure you don’t miss our updates, and find out more about the event here.