Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy communication’ Category
Can You Do Good Badly?
I don’t think I’m one to scare easily but the headline in last weekend’s Sunday Times cut me down: “Councils in War Against Wind Farms”. Sounds like a standard NIMBY view, but the article states that if a judicial review between RWE npower renewables and Milton Keynes Council fails it will close all but 1% of the UK to wind farm development. It will allow councils to impose a 2km exclusion zone from housing because of the visual blight of wind turbines.
Now I’ve never quite understood the visual argument against wind farms. I find them rather majestic and beautiful; an Antony Gormley for every man – and with a useful purpose. But many have significant objections to them, including one Donald Trump; which kills the argument stone dead in my eyes. It is the aesthetic argument of a visual blight that appears to be the principle reason why communities do not want wind farms in their back yards.
If one is passionate about a sustainable future and find windmills attractive, their development is a no-brainer. One must accept that all that is sustainable is not necessarily green, see blog from August 2011. It seems however that many people don’t share this view. Large parts of the community feel that the sight of rotating windmills on the horizon is too big a price to pay. One could simply dismiss this as short-sighted and misguided, but if we are to hand over a half decent future to our children we need to listen to the objections – that means properly listen.
The UK renewables sector is now emerging out of a niche and into the mainstream. If the ambitions of the players in the sector are fulfilled it could have a significant impact on our green and pleasant land. This change is scary and confusing for many. Arguments over 6 degree global average temperature increases and 30% renewable energy targets will have little or no resonance, but arguments over £170 increase in electricity bills and ugly wind turbines will. Short term beating long term, again.
It seems therefore that our opportunity to establish a significant renewables sector may be disappearing at the planning committee’s table. If sector leaders like RWE are threatening withdrawal from the UK, we have to be concerned. I believe that the whole sector has felt it could operate under the “Green Halo” with impunity; with almost a moral right to build and develop, because what it is developing is for the good of all, in delivering low carbon energy. Little has been done to operate with full responsibility in this rush for wind gold and this could be the downfall of the sector.
The time has now come for the wind and renewables to recognise its own responsibilities and start to really connect with the stakeholders and communities in which it wishes to operate. We at Vivian Partnership have worked extensively with UK Coal and it has recognised that it needs to engage with its community, not superficially but deep down. To listen and respond and most of all to keep its promises and not hide its head in the sand hoping that the planning process will come out on its side.
Ironically the renewables sector needs to follow this lead. It needs more humility, to learn to recognise the right to object and to go out of the way to listen to objections and to accept that alternative views to its own are valid. In this way a sensible dialogue can start and during which understanding will develop. With understanding will come a level of acceptance and with acceptance will come some approval. Wishful thinking perhaps, but without one of the parties making the effort, we may never achieve our carbon targets.
At present much of the renewables sector is only considering two sides to the sustainability trinity. The deep social aspects of wind farm developments now need to be considered alongside the clearer environmental and economic benefits. Only then will it gain more widespread acceptance and a little bit of all of our futures can be a little bit more secure with responsible renewables.
Is Solar Energy The New uPVC? – Dan Vivian
I’m afraid that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes down to windows. Unfortunately the uPVC versions really don’t do it for me.
I know they are convenient, simple, maintenance free and good value but on most properties they seem to remove the character, even the soul of the house. They are however here to stay and have been very successful in their promotion and marketing – from Everest (poor old Ted Moult and now dear little Craig Doyle) to the multitude of local suppliers and contractors.
It seems now that this rather crude, direct, hard-sell approach is being adopted by the numerous solar energy providers across the country. Will this prove effective and is it the most appropriate strategy and targeting for this technology? Equally will it take the sustainability message forward? Or am I still just a snob?
I have thoughts on a number of levels. Firstly targeting. Surely the primary target for these products are those with a conscience – who can afford the capital expenditure for the longer term reward and have a belief in wanting to do good for the planet. The style, personality and message of the majority of such campaigns does not seems to engage on this level but at a much more basic level using phrases such as “you could earn £1,000’s” and “turn your roof into a cash machine”.
Secondly the message; while the financial messages are seductive and powerful – my concern is that they are not being transparent. Often such technology takes 10-20 years to pay back. In which time the homeowner may well have left this mortal coil; as the majority of purchasers are 65+. This is certainly the case with my ecologically inclined octogenarian parents.
I believe this very important arm of renewable energy is in danger of being undermined through its crude marketing campaigns. The whole body language of the marketing seems inappropriate to me. You could accuse me of snobbery (again!) but I believe the organisations are not being clear and open. They could be far more effective if they balanced their messages between short term economic benefits with long term environmental ones. It is another example of balance being of primary importance in sustainable communications and is the basis to our Pathfinder Model™.
A lot of this comes down to consumer insight, product truths and subtlety of positioning. Take a look at Good Energy if you want to see how it should be done. The rest of the solar fitment industry take note, you may just be barking up the wrong tree in not considering a more balanced approach to your marketing.
Over the last few months, working with a number of clients on how best to engage their internal teams, one
As some of you will be aware Dan and I were a part of the Planet and Prosperity team, led
“Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration…” was the title from our latest Oomph Seminar. Apologies to Tony Blair for our rather clumsy adaptation
Yesterday was a first for me. I was in the audience at an internal company conference while Dan took the
Updating the energy efficiency of the UK’s aged housing stock is a no brainer. It will possibly have more of an impact
Much has been reported about the horse meat scandal in the food supply chain, much angst and much anger, and
Our successful series, Oomph Seminars, moved to London yesterday. The theme was “Sustainability on a Shoestring – is it possible?”
There are times when events converge to stimulate some new thinking – for me, this might be one of those
I don’t think I’m one to scare easily but the headline in last weekend’s Sunday Times cut me
This post is going to short and sweet. It is a rallying cry to all sustainability professionals out there. Do
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It is fantastic to leave a seminar feeling inspired and full of practical ideas. Thursday’s oomph seminar did exactly that, Ben and Dan are naturals at putting an audience at ease which meant real participation from the group. As environmental professionals often form a one person team, it is fantastic to share a room with like minded individuals from local businesses who have faced and tackled similar challenges and can offer insight and advice. Eagerly anticipating the next installment of Oomph!
Nicola Duffy, Environmental Co-ordinator at Highcross, Leicester
Thank you both for inviting us to today’s Oomph seminar. From our point of view, we found the stimulus material and subsequent debate insightful from a sustainability perspective, but also in a wider context applicable to the successful deployment of general business initiatives.
Participant at Oomph Seminar 30 June 2011
Really enjoyed this morning. I have attended very few seminars over the past two years simple because they are all too similar, often the the same speakers and follow the same theme. Today was most importantly enjoyable, interesting and got the brain cells working. I like small groups with variety of people and backgrounds.
Participant at first Oomph Seminar 30 June 2011