6 Major Barriers to Renewable Energy Adoption and How Marketing’s Role is Vital
The majority of energy professionals believe the energy transition is accelerating.
Nearly all countries had established renewable energy targets at the end of 2020. The European Union aims to achieve 32% renewable energy by 2030, while China has pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
Investment in renewable energy last year rose to another record, BloombergNEF estimates, approaching half a trillion dollars for the first time.
But this isn't the full story about renewable energy's adoption.
While the investment figures are the highest ever, they fall short of estimates of what’s needed to be on track for global net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. At the same time, only 39% of energy professionals are confident about meeting decarbonisation and climate targets.
Several barriers are inhibiting our readiness or willingness to embrace green energy as a trusted energy source. Among them are investments in grid infrastructure, supply chain issues, finance/investment, and governmental policies and actions - or lack of them.
Alongside these, myths and misconceptions about renewables' viability are actively pushed into the public arena, slowing communities' willingness to adopt them.
That being said, momentum is building to break these barriers as societies worldwide feel the effects of climate and energy crises - and public awareness about climate change and the need for sustainable energy solutions grows.
Marketing promoting the positive realities of green energy can build momentum and help change public perception.
People are curious and keen to decouple their energy use from fossil fuels. They also see the economic advantages of doing so: a 2022 survey in the UK showed that 74% of people agreed that renewable energy benefits the national economy.
If you want to raise awareness and increase the adoption of your renewable energy solution, read on for a run-down of the barriers you're likely to face and how marketing can help promote its adoption - to create a more sustainable future for all.
The 6 major barriers to renewable energy adoption
First off, we’re in this together. Although the following list might sound a bit negative, great marketing support can readily tackle the challenges. As we go, we jump into a quick overview of how.
1. Lack of Awareness / Ingrained attitudes
Many people are still not fully aware of the benefits and potential of renewable energy. Some are actively cynical, having absorbed the misinformation pushed by the fossil fuel industry.
In the UK, statistics on public attitudes toward renewable energy reveal that while only 1% of people actively oppose using renewable energy, the proportion who strongly support it was higher for:
Men (56% compared to 49% of women)
Those under 35 (59%, compared with 53% of people aged 35 to 64 and 45% of those aged 65+)
People educated to degree level (69%, compared with 48% of those with other qualifications and 41% of people with no qualifications).
Marketing can shift the attitudes of the unconvinced - and encourage those who strongly support it to become champions of their views, educating others about the advantages of renewable energy sources.
2. Cost Perception
Some perceive renewable energy as expensive. The facts don’t support this.
The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook shows that for most countries worldwide, solar photovoltaic and onshore wind are the cheapest options for new electricity generation.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that renewable energy added in 2021 saved around $55bn on global energy generation costs in 2022.
Marketing can highlight the long-term cost savings for individuals, communities, industry and businesses, highlighting government incentives and financing options associated with renewable energy and debunking the myth of unaffordability.
3. Grid Integration
Integrating renewable energy into existing power grids is challenging: developing the UK grid’s capabilities in this regard is one of the key recommendations in Electricity Networks Commissioner Nick Winser’s recent report. But infrastructure challenges have been addressed in many countries - marketing can call out the technological advancements and successful case studies of grid integration, instilling confidence in the reliability and stability of renewable energy sources.
4. Policy and Regulations
Inadequate or unclear policies and regulations hinder renewable energy growth. A strong majority of energy professionals (88%) say accelerating permitting and licensing is critical to meeting climate goals.
Marketing can advocate for supportive policies and actively encourage public engagement and participation in pressuring governance to shape regulations that promote renewable energy and will help us meet our climate goals.
Concerns about insufficient infrastructure, such as charging stations for electric vehicles or renewable energy storage facilities, can discourage adoption. Marketing can highlight ongoing infrastructure development projects, showcasing progress - such as the number of publicly accessible chargers in Europe increasing by 30% in 2021 for both slow and fast EV charging stations - and the expanding accessibility of renewable energy solutions.
6. Perception of Inconvenience / Viability
Some people may perceive renewable energy as inconvenient due to limitations in availability, technical complexity or even viability.
Marketing can emphasise the convenience and ease of use of renewable energy technologies - and explain it.
According to Forbes, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading it in a text, so utilising media like video and animation to simplify complex ideas for new audiences can encourage the adoption of green energy sources.
Marketing that gave green campaigns the green light
Marketing matters. At its best, marketing can do more than win hearts and minds. It can change them.
As the world sits on the brink of irrevocable climate change, getting the message right has never been more critical. Here are some campaigns for renewable energy companies and major players in the sector that have done just that.
These campaigns successfully combined storytelling, education, and compelling messaging to engage audiences and promote the benefits of renewable energy. They leveraged various mediums, including television, social media, and online content, to reach a broad audience and drive positive change.
`Wind Works’ - Ørsted / Firedog
Danish renewable energy company Ørsted launched this campaign to debunk ‘myths and misfacts’’ about offshore wind and shift public consensus on offshore wind in the UK.
Striking visuals across installations and media conveyed the power and awe of the UK’s innovation potential alongside myth-busting interactive copy and longer-form thought pieces on the argument for offshore wind’s place in the UK’s energy mix.
Earth Hour - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
31 March 2007 marked the world’s first Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia. It saw more than 2.2 million people turn off their lights for one hour to show a climate-sceptic government that people were concerned about climate change.
Since then, it has grown to engage millions of supporters in more than 185 countries and territories as an annual event where individuals, organisations, and landmarks switch off lights for one hour to raise awareness about climate change.
With tailored content for each digital platform, in 2022, Earth Hour generated a record-breaking 10.1+ billion social media impressions globally, with “Earth Hour” and related keywords and hashtags trending across 35 countries on Twitter or Google search.
’It’s Time’ - E.ON / House 337
A compelling video ad from House 337 released earlier this year, is intended to show the urgency of the climate crisis and E.ON’s role in providing clean energy to businesses and households.
Using virtual production, the piece itself strived to use sustainable practices as far as possible and minimise the carbon cost of its production.
Get Found. Be Heard. Grow.
Marketing builds confidence, trust and credibility in your business and that it can deliver secure, reliable, accessible and affordable energy for society is essential to driving greater adoption.
In every action, from website updates to brand design and content marketing strategy, it helps to assess how this is helping to amplify the potential of green energy.
There is no silver bullet to fast-track our transition to green energy, nor secure its large-scale adoption.
But we know the more specific and clear your marketing can be as to who your solutions help most, how they help them, and the end goals achieved will help to cut through the barriers standing in your way.
In renewables, this is a mission that’s critical for businesses and the planet.
If you’d like to learn more about how marketing can move the needle for your renewable energy business, let’s talk.
Reach out to Andy on: email@example.com