People Should Be Encouraged, Not Forced To Switch To Renewable Energy
Even before the current global economic crisis unfolded there were voices of opposition against a large scale switchover to renewable energy sources as it could cost billions of dollars straining the economies across the world. And then came the long impending energy crisis which made the use of renewable energy imperative. While the governments around the world unleashed massively ambitious national energy plans in an effort to check the degrading effect of high fuel prices, somewhere, it seems, this new energy revolution has hit a wall. A wall which has made the common people rethink about their capacity to bring about significant changes in their lives in order to undo the damages they have done, knowingly or unknowingly, to the environment.
Although this practice isn’t common but a German town recently passed a law which makes it mandatory for its people to install solar energy equipment whenever they buy a new home or renovate the existing one. The motive of the town’s council no doubt is well intended as it tries to press on the use of renewable energy but the law would certainly face serious opposition from the people. As Nicholas Kulish of the New York Times puts it
The town council’s decision to require solar-heating panels has thrown Marburg into a vehement debate over the boundaries of ecological good citizenship and led opponents to charge that their genteel town has turned into a “green dictatorship.”
Such a step hasn’t been taken anywhere else in Germany which has become a global leader in renewable energy, especially in the solar energy sector. Being the leader in the solar energy sector is the proof that the German people are willing to do their bit for the environment, that they are educated and well informed about the benefits of using renewable energy; so why force them to go solar.
In the race to go carbon neutral and set an example for the rest of the world, the council of Marburg has taken this hasty decision and one which could very well prove counterproductive. The council should encourage the people to replace some of their fossil fuel consumption with renewable energy since such a transition is slow and takes time people should not be forced into it otherwise people might lose interest in the new energy scheme as they would see it as a policy against their best interests.
Some of the weak points of the law were stressed upon by the local opposition leader, Hermann Uchtmann, who calls it ‘green dictatorship’.
Marburg is already a leader when it comes to the use of solar energy, but up until now they’ve always tried to convince people rather than forcing them. It’s unfortunate that they decided to compel people, because I think you breed opponents that way rather than friends of solar energy, Mr. Uchtmann said.
He said he found the demands too invasive for existing homes, especially in the case of older citizens who might not live long enough to justify the upfront costs of installing the solar systems.
People should be encouraged to decrease their carbon emissions gradually and shouldn’t be expected to make the transition to renewable energy sources in a flash or against their wishes. Germany has seen tremendous growth in the solar energy sector and it has achieved such energy milestones without enacting such mandatory laws. The politicians of Murburg must put their trust in the people and encourage them to use solar energy equipments.
Incentives, subsidies and feed-in tariffs could be implemented. Solar panels should be provided at subsidized rates plus additional tax benefits for consumers can also help popularize solar power. By introducing a feed-in tariff agreement between the consumers and the local industries the town’s council could create a market for home owners who manage produce more than they consume. Such measures would not only reduce the chances of dissatisfaction among the consumers but would also make people responsible towards their energy consumption.
Photo Credit: meaduva (Creative Commons)