Written by Dan George 

Rejoice! A new report by Aurora Energy Research brings hope. Hope that we might just be on the brink of a breakthrough for subsidy-free renewable energy – revolutionising the energy market and unlocking €180 billion in investment opportunities across northwest Europe.

But, before we get too excited, haven’t we heard a similar song before? And what does subsidy-free actually mean? After all, there are a number of different definitions currently competing for prominence.

This is an important question. Research shows that consumers need convincing on cost before they give renewables their full backing. They won’t be swayed by sustainability alone. Government subsidies are an important part of the equation.

So it’s imperative that renewables businesses do their best to argue their cost-efficiency, starting with giving consumers clarity on just what subsidy-free means.

But even more important is to make the case for fair treatment in public discussion. Almost all big infrastructure projects are subsidised, yet renewables subsidies seem subject to a disproportionate level of scrutiny.

This only serves to make consumers sceptical and to focus on the relatively high installation costs of renewable sources, paying little notice to savings down the line on things like commodities purchases.

Ultimately, renewables deserve to be judged on their own merits. But they can’t sit back and expect people to understand that they’re a little different. They have to be more assertive in making the case.

This won’t be easy, they’ll need all their creative nous to reframe the conversation. But if they don’t, they’ll never get to sing ‘hallelujah’.

Dan George is Creative Lead at Aspectus Group.

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