There is no doubt that an abundant supply of clean energy to power the planet ranks as one of the top issues that must be satisfactorily addressed if future generations are to enjoy life as good or better than we know it today.
It’s easy for us to say we support renewable energy. But in practice, what is our willingness-to-pay (WTP) for it? A key factor in whether a particular country or region is likely to reach its renewable energy objectives such as the European Union’s goal to achieve a 20% overall share of renewable energy by 2020 is how willing households are to migrate to its use from conventional energy.
We can no longer afford to burn fossil fuels indiscriminately without further endangering our atmosphere through the release of CO2. But unless a dramatic invention materializes to alter the economic advantage that oil, gas, and coal have over alternative sources of energy such as conservation, wind, nuclear, or solar, the future looks bleak. Numerous studies have been carried out to estimate people’s willingness-to-pay (WTP) for renewable energy. However, the results of these individual studies are often inconclusive or even contradictory, with considerable variations in the magnitude, sign, and significance of their WTP estimates. We Can think of shutting down the coal industries excrete a lot of CO2. But shutting coal mines and coal power plants will make a lot of humans unemployed. It will crush the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people and impoverish scores of communities.
An appropriate way to store that energy would be required to provide power when sunlight is not available. New, efficient, light collecting devices, catalysts for splitting water, storage devices, and a mechanism to distribute the electricity are all required. The question only remains whether sufficient resources and leadership can be mustered to achieve success, again given the economic disadvantage versus burning fossil fuels that solar energy generation will surely face as it ramps up to the level needed on a global basis. For generations, we have assumed that workers and their communities are simply out of luck when corporate and national policy decisions torpedo the economy that supports them. The just-transition movement presents us with an opportunity to upend that assumption. Preserving the planet must be inextricably linked with a commitment to economic prosperity for all.