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Legal Barriers to the Development and Use of Renewable Energies

— October 8, 2021

Renewable energies are gaining a lot of popularity as more people focus on reducing their carbon footprint.

Renewable electricity generation will increase by more than 8% to reach 8300Twh, with solar and wind contributing two-thirds of renewable energy growth, according to the International Energy Agency. Despite the increased electricity generation capacity from renewables and solid investments in wind and solar projects, changing the global energy system isn’t easy.

For decades, coal, oil, and gas have been the primary sources of fuel driving the world’s economies. This trend is still prevalent in the modern world, making the development of renewables an uphill battle. However, reliance on fossil fuels isn’t the only challenge affecting the adoption of renewable energy. There are plenty of legal issues surrounding the solar industry, wind, and hydropower projects. Check out some of the legal barriers to the development and use of renewable energies.

Ineffective Government Policies

Arguably, there is a lot of inconsistency between renewable and non-renewable energies. And part of this problem is the lack of effective government policies within the energy sector. Without strong regulatory policies, confusion sets in over the deployment of subsidies in various departments.

Other issues linked to renewable energy policies include a lack of confidence in renewable energy technologies. Unstable policies also limit the integration of renewable energy technologies with the global market, thus creating a barrier to deploy renewable energy projects.  

Administrative Complexities 

Legal restrictions and planning delays are common administrative obstacles that interfere with the successful development of renewable energy. Long lead times and high costs of lobbying also make the process of obtaining permits for renewable energy development daunting. The limitation of infrastructure development results in grid instability, and in some situations, legal disputes between project developers and local authorities occur. Too often, project developers are forced to take legal actions due to change in law clauses, an extension of timelines on entitlements, and delays in performance guarantees.

Rooftop solar panels adorn a house with intricate wooden trim.
Public domain photo by Photo-Mix, courtesy of Pixabay. CC0

To avoid legal issues, developers should familiarize themselves with the barriers to renewable energy development. For instance, if you plan on investing in solar energy, take time to understand the regulations associated with installing photovoltaic and thermal systems. If you’re harvesting solar energy for use at home, you only need to worry about buying solar panels. But if you’re building a solar farm, you’ll need to obtain licenses, purchase land, and comply with planning requirements set by state authorities.

Lack of Strong Fiscal Incentives

Governments worldwide are yet to implement sufficient measures to remove or reduce tax on imports of renewable energy equipment. Most governments use feed-in tariffs to subsidize renewable energy resources. This move aims to lower the cost of renewable energies, making them cost-competitive with fossil fuel-powered electricity.

However, inadequate fiscal incentives make renewable energy more expensive. As a result, the development of the renewable energy industry becomes more difficult. Investors also face challenges in the operation and maintenance of renewable energy systems, thus slowing down the efforts to enhance sustainability in the energy sector.  

Renewable energies are gaining a lot of popularity as more people focus on reducing their carbon footprint. And while solar, wind, and hydropower are excellent sources of electricity today, legal issues hinder the deployment and adoption of renewable energy. Some of these legal barriers include inadequate financial support from governments, ineffective policies, and administrative complexities.

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