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Renewable Energy Policy and Public Opinion

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Renewable Energy Policy and Public Opinion Selena Kaneko KYOTO UNIVERSITY Abstract Renewable energy is attracting more and more global attention both as new domestic energy and as a way to reduce greenhouse
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Renewable Energy Policy and Public Opinion Selena Kaneko KYOTO UNIVERSITY Abstract Renewable energy is attracting more and more global attention both as new domestic energy and as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many governments are promoting the various forms of renewable energy but the total amount of renewable energy is still very low in most countries. Difficulties arise as the energy supply directly affects the daily life of everybody, making it important to well consider what people think about energy policies and strategies. The public should have influence over the choice of energy sources. This is both inevitable, and democratically desirable.t What is public opinion about renewable energy and how should governments go about educating people about renewable energy? INTRODUCTION This research paper considers what kind of influence have public acceptance for the promotion of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass and how should public opinion be considered in policy making. Alternative forms of energy generation are expected to make a significant contribution to solving the problem that is present by the threat of anthropogenic climate change. At the recent international conference about climate change held in Paris, COP21, the investment toward renewable energy was one of the issues discussed. In order to deal with climate change, innovation and installation of renewable energy is needed; this requires cooperation of government and the private sector. Moreover, for some countries where natural fossil resources are not plentiful, like Japan, renewable energy is important to increase the energy self-sufficiency rate. Many countries are implementing policies that encourage investment toward and innovation of renewable energy. To install more and more renewable energy, consent by the public is needed both nationally 1 and locally. However, it is very difficult to know what public are thinking just by looking at the polls because, as James S. Fishkin points out, the public may have little interest in and knowledge about renewable energy 1. Therefore the pursued questions for this research are what public think about renewable energy and whether they are interested in renewable energy policies. As showed in the following research even though in the overall polls the acceptance and expectation for renewable energy is relatively high in both Japan and the U.S., in some places the construction of the power stations, for example wind turbines, faces opposition by the local people. In the following paper, first describe the situation of renewable energy in the U.S. and Japan, and then the trend of public opinion in both countries. After that, give some points concerning what government could do to improve the public acceptance of renewable energy. THE SITUATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE U.S. AND JAPAN The political systems of the U.S. and Japan are different in many ways but the ratio of renewable energy in the supply of electricity is somewhat similar (Figure1). Both countries have a relatively low ratio of renewable energy compared to other countries like Germany and Denmark. This section briefly overviews the history of policies and position of renewable energy in the U.S. and Japan, the current situation and the goals of each government. Figure 1, Primary Energy Production by major sources Fishkin, James S. When the People Speak; Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation. Oxford University Press, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. Anual Report on Energy. Anual Report on Energy (Agency for Natural Resorces and Energy of Japan), U.S. Energy Information Administration. Renewable Energy Explained. 3 27, (accessed 12 13, 2015). 2 Figure 3 Renewable Energy in Japan Renewable Energy10000kw Figure 2 Renewable Energy Production by Primary Energy Source in the U.S U.S Energy Information Administration Production Total Renewable Energy Trillion Btu In both the U.S. and Japan a noticeable engagement in renewable energy by the central administration started after the oil crises of the 1970s. This is obvious as in the congressional records of the both countries the words renewable energy or new energy appears frequently after The oil crises stimulated a sense of the danger in excessive dependence on foreign oil for the energy supply. Japan had promoted technical investment for 4 The Library of Congress. The Libraby of Congress. n.d. https://www.loc.gov/ (accessed 04 11, 2016). National Diet Library. Full-text Database System for the Minutes of the Diets. n.d. (accessed 04 11, 2016). 3 renewable energy, especially for solar energy, along with nuclear power as the alternative to fossil fuel and called new energy 5. In the early stage of renewable energy policy, the Japanese government mainly invested in technical research of renewable energy. This tendency that Japanese government mainly invested in the technical research and not so much to the application and operation continued until the end of the 20 th Century. In 2003, Japan started the so-called Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). According to this policy Japanese electric companies were mandated to supply a certain amount of electricity produced by renewable energy. The government defined the amount and what counts as renewable energy. However, as the amount that the government requested was much too low that this policy did not work very well and did not lead to the installation of a significant amount of renewable energy. At the same time the Japanese government abolished the subsidies to the solar industry and Japan lost its leading role in the industry. Japanese renewable energy policy stagnated until 2009, when the debate about the implementation of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) began. FIT became law in 2012 pushing the amount of renewable energy up in Japan. In 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake happened and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster greatly affected the discussion over renewable energy policy. Under the Basic Act on Energy Policy, the Japanese government is revising the Basic Energy Plan at least every three years. In the 2014 version of the plan 6 the Japanese government declared the promotion of renewable energy a priority and in the energy mix plan which was made according to the Basic Energy Plan of 2014 the Japanese government is aiming to have percent of renewable energy by Although this includes percent of hydroelectricity, Japan will have to achieve a large increase in the percentage of other renewable energy from 3.2 percent to over 10 percent. In the U.S., the history of federal renewable energy policy started during the Carter administration 7. In response to the oil crises, President Jimmy Carter submitted the National Energy Plan to Congress, and Congress passed five pieces of legislation, collectively known as the National Energy Act. In those plans and measures, investment in and promotion toward renewable energy are mentioned. However, the introduction of renewable energy in the U.S. 5 Kobayashi, Shinichi. Renewable energy policy ( 再生可能エネルギーの政策史 ). In The various aspects concerning renewable energy: Investigation project investigation report about science and technology, by National Diet Library investigation and legislative bank relations and supervision department, National Diet Library, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy Basic Energy Plan エネルギー基本計画. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Kobayashi, Kenichi. The Formation of Contemporary Energy Policy in the U.S. : President Carter's Energy Policy : Note. The Journal of Tokyo Keisai University : Economics 285 (2015): Jan-74 Jan-76 Jan-78 Jan-80 Jan-82 Jan-84 Jan-86 Jan-88 Jan-90 Jan-92 Jan-94 Jan-96 Jan-98 Jan-00 Jan-02 Jan-04 Jan-06 Jan-08 Jan-10 Jan-12 Jan-14 Jan-16 has been relatively slow. In contrast to the slow and reluctant engagement with renewable energy policy on the federal level, many states had previously implemented various both rule and regulation type and incentive type of policies 8. Rule and regulation type of policies are measures like the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Mandatory Green Power Option (MGPO) and incentive type of policies are like Feed-in tariff (FIT) and other subsidies. Starting with the 1990s, individual states had taken leading roles in promoting renewable energy 9. The willingness of the federal government to engage in promotion of renewable energy was relatively weak until the Obama administration. President Obama promoted investment in renewable energy calling it a Green New Deal. This policy was conceived positively due to high price of oil around Figure 4 Refiner Acquisition Cost of Crude Oil U.S Energy Information Administration Refiner Acquisition Cost of Crude Oil President Obama had appealed the importance of renewable energy from the perspective of national security and climate change. On August 3, 2015, President Obama and 8 Ansolabehere, Stephen, and David M. Konisky. Cheap and Clean, How Americans Think about Energy in the Age of Global Warming. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Shrimali, Gireesh, and Joshua Kniefel. Are government policies effective in promoting deployment of renewable electricity resources? Energy Policy (Elsevier) 39 (2011): (U.S. Energy Information Administration 2015) 5 the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is an overall plan for reducing carbon dioxide emission to deal with climate change in the energy sector of the economy. Development of the renewable energy is one aspect for dealing with man-made climate change and, in the plan the U.S is going to obtain 21 percent of electric energy from renewable energy sources by Both the U.S. and Japanese governments are planning to expand the capacity of renewable energy. PUBLIC OPINION IN THE U.S. AND JAPAN Evaluating public opinion is complex as it has various variables. Most people do not have enough information to have an opinion about renewable energy. Some people are willing to increase renewable energy but do not want to pay the higher electricity prices. This section points out two things. One is the gap between the general public opinion about the renewable energy and the opinion of local people where the renewable energy plants are planned to be constructed. The other is that most of the public have little interest in where the energy came from as long as they do not face significant problems in their daily life. Generally speaking, the public acceptance and expectation toward renewable energy are high in both the U.S. and Japan. Stephen Ansolabehere and David M. Konisky argue in their book Cheap and Clean, that what the American public want for their energy is that it be cheap and clean, just as the book title says. The historical analysis of Gallup poll about energy shows that the American public is very much in favor of clean energy compared to other energy like coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy (Figure 2). In the survey data obtained by the Institute of Applied Energy of Japan when people were asked if they think whether, renewable energy, if it is strongly encouraged could be one of the main energy suppliers in Japan after 20 years, around 60-80% of the people say yes (Figure 3). Contrasting with the high public expectation and acceptance in general, when one looks closely at actual cases, some renewable energy projects face local opposition. As 11 United States Environmental Protection Agency. FACT SHEET: Clean Power Plan - Clean Energy Now and in the Future. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 8 13, (accessed 1 15, 2016) 6 renewable energy is less energy intensive than conventional energy like oil and gas, it requires more space to implement. There are various reasons for opposition depending on what kind of renewable energy facility is to be built (see Table 2). The common reasons for local opposition are the disturbance of landscape, health damage, environmental risk and lack of substantial explanation by the business operator. In the case of Higashi-izu in Japan, local residents are complaining about the operation of mega wind turbines as they destruct landscape, causes sleeping difficulty and moreover that wind turbines create little profit for them 12. Looking at the Figure 3, the number of people who say yes to this survey has declined after the Fukushima disaster of This result may be a consequence of increased public interest in energy problems. After the Fukushima disaster the people in the Tokyo metropolitan area experienced rolling electric blackout, which was implemented to deal with electricity shortage of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company). This firsthand experience may have lead people to think and learn about where the energy they consume comes from and how the energy is produced. Therefore in the survey after 2011 many people may have answered with a more critical opinion. After 2011 people who said that they do not know increased compared to the years before This may be also the result of the fact that people thought about the energy more seriously than before and realized actually that they do not know about renewable energy that much. Figure 5 Gallup Poll about Energy 13 Do you think that as a country, the United States should put more emphasis, less emphasis, or about the same emphasis as it does now on producing domestic energy from each of the following sources [RANDOM ORDER]? More emphasis (%) Less emphasis (%) Same emphasis (%) No opinion (%) COAL 2015 Mar Mar OIL 12 Think about Wind Turbine Problem 風車問題を考える住民の会. About the Problem of Wind Energy and Wind Turbine Construction in Higashi-izu 東伊豆町風力発電 風車建設問題について. n.d. (accessed 12 13, 2015) 13 Gallup. Energy: Gallup Historical Trend. n.d. (accessed 1 9, 2016). 7 2015 Mar Mar NATURAL GAS 2015 Mar Mar WIND 2015 Mar Mar SOLAE POWER 2015 Mar Mar NUCLEAR POWER 2015 Mar Mar GALLUP Figure 6 Poll of the public opinion about energy 14 Question: Assuming that it is encouraged strongly, renewable energy (such as solar, wind and geothermal energy) could be one of the main energy supplies in Japan after 20 years. (respondents: people who live within 30 km of the Tokyo metropolitan area, N=500) 14 Institute of Applied Energy. Poll of the public opinion about energy. Agree Somewhat agree Don't know Somewhat disagree Disagree Table 1 15 in general wind solar geothermal biomass reasons for opposition poor explanation noise, landscape, bird strike land use environmental destruction, earth quakes land should be used for food production For smoother and more practical expansion of renewable energy, what is government required to do? There are various perspectives from which to think about this question. Focusing on public acceptance, I propose, that there are three important points, which may be summed up as participation, choice, and planning. The first point is local participation. Many places where a substantial amount of wind energy capacity could be successfully built seem to have high local acceptance and 15 Maruyama, Yasushi. Socialization of Renewable Energy. Yuhikaku, support. Ogata points out the connection between positive impression and participation in the planning process 16. In his paper he examined the difference of the relation between two different districts which are located next to a same windfarm and, the business operator of the windfarm. He found out that in a district that had better communication with the business operator few people claimed noise nuisance by the wind farm was unbearable but in the other district with poor communication, local residents complained to the business operator that they were suffering from the noise of the wind turbines. In the case of Hgashi-Izu City, the opposing group does not seem to have strong dislike toward the city owned wind turbines but strongly opposed the big wind turbines which were built by a private company. The second important point is choice and availability of information. It is important that the pubic have a fair amount of information to choose what kind of energy they want. Most people do not think about energy seriously as long as they are not in trouble. Governments or public services need to create intentional opportunities that people think about renewable energy. For the open discussion it is important to appeal from many kinds of media such as the Internet and TV, or in the school and senior education. The last point is the strategy and plan of business operators. To choose places where people have a rather positive impression of the renewable energy facilities is one possible strategy according to Ogata 17. Places like former industrial sites that in the past have suffered from the air pollution are often favorably inclined towards wind turbines and solar panels. However, because suitable and efficient places for renewable energy depend on natural conditions it may happen that the best locations are in areas where the people are most likely to be opposed to building power stations. Therefore it is important for the business operator to learn how to ease the opposition and find a solution that is acceptable to everyone. CONCLUSION Renewable energy is going to take an important role in the energy supply. The governments are aiming to cover more energy by renewable energy than the current level. By 2030, both Japanese and U.S. governments are planning to compose about 20 percent of the 16 Ogata, Seiichi. A study on the Social Factors of Wind Noise Problem: Case of the Wind Power Plants in the M City. Papers on Environmental Information Science 29 (2015): ibid 10 energy by the renewable energy. National Security and climate change are the reasons why the renewable should be promoted. In the process of promotion it is very important that citizens are presented with options and alternatives from which they can choose from a position of solid knowledge and be conscious what kind of energy they are using. More and more people are going to be affected and involved in the renewable energy programs and facilities. References Advancing American Energy. The White House. n.d. https://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/securing-american-energy (accessed 1 5, 2016). Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. Anual Report on Energy. Anual Report on Energy (Agency for Natural Resorces and Energy of Japan), Basic Energy Plan エネルギー基本計画. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Statistic of Energy. Agency for Natural Resources and Energy , (accessed 1 5, 2016). Ansolabehere, Stephen, and David M. Konisky. Cheap and Clean, How Americans Think about Energy in the Age of Global Warming. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bolsen, Toby, and Fay Lomax Cook. The Polls-Trends: Public opinion on Energy Policy Public Opinion Quarterly (Oxford Journals) 72, no. 2 (2008): Delmas, Magali A., and Maria J. Montes-Sancho. U.S state policies for renewable energy: Context and effectiveness. Eenergy Policy (Elsevier) 39 (2011): Fishkin, James S. When the People Speak; Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation. Oxford University Press, Gallup. Energy: Gallup Historical Trend. n.d. (accessed 1 9, 2016). Institute of Applied Energy. Poll of the public opinion about energy. Kobayashi, Kenichi. The Formation of Contemporary Energy Policy in the U.S. : President Carter's Energy Policy : Note. The Journal of Tokyo Keisai University : Economics 285 (2015): Kobayashi, Shinichi. Renewable energy policy ( 再生可能エネルギーの政策史 ). In The various aspects concerning renewable energy: Investigation project investigation report about science and technology, by National Diet Library investigation and legislative bank relations and supervision department, National Diet Library, 11 2014. Maruyama, Yasushi. Socialization of Renewable Energy. Yuhikaku, National Diet Library. Full-text
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