New research from Farnell indicates that barriers to renewable energy adoption can be surmounted with new technology

A recent survey by element14, an Avnet Community, found that even though consumer awareness of the need to use more renewable energy is high, questions remain as to how to decrease the continuing dependence on fossil fuels.

The survey’s single question canvassed community members as to what they saw as the most challenging barrier to increasing the use of renewable energy sources, and the answers were consistent.

The ongoing influence of fossil fuel companies was cited by 23 percent of the survey respondents as the biggest barrier to the adoption of renewable energy sources, followed by the current lack of “good” battery technology (18 percent). However, the barrier presented by battery technology was closely followed by the cost of installing new or retrofitted infrastructure, and renewable energy itself, at 18 and 17 percent respectively.

Andreea Teodorescu, Global Director of Product Marketing & element14 Community, Farnell, said, “The majority of respondents stated that the long-standing influence of the fossil fuel industry remains one of the primary obstacles to increasing the use of renewable energy sources, followed closely by the costs of building new or retrofitting existing infrastructures.

“Long-term infrastructure cost savings for the use of renewable energy sources can be achieved, but the initial cost of building and maintaining the infrastructure required can be prohibitive. A meaningful return on investment can take a decade to achieve without the time and cost-saving benefits developers can deliver.”

Another respondent pointed out that some renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, are intermittent, which can again make it costly to put in place measures to counter the occasional power shortfalls and deal with the subsequent business and operational interruptions. This view was shared by 13 percent of all respondents.

A number of survey respondents echoed the sentiment that many decades of fossil-fuel powered infrastructure can be difficult and costly to convert to the use of renewable energy sources. Another 16 percent said that renewable energy sources remain more expensive to produce and consume than fossil fuel energy sources. Despite the environmental consequences, people tend to gravitate toward what costs them less.

Other respondents, however, pointed out that obstacles to renewable energy can vary from region to region. This is often due to differing governmental policies, varying levels of public engagement with environmental initiatives and different levels of planning or investment in relevant infrastructure projects. In fact, 11 percent of survey respondents said that a lack of political will was a prime obstacle to adoption.

Lastly, three percent of survey respondents claim that a great deal of engineering is required to fully embrace the electric vehicle and electric heating industries. EV charging stations, for example, are increasingly available, but many remain idle because they are not able to establish an electricity grid connection due to an overall lack of capacity. So, although the EV industry is growing, the costs associated with it can decrease interest in investment.

Teodorescu concluded, “We all support the need to consume as much energy from renewable sources as possible, but the results of this year’s survey indicate that much work remains to ensure a sustainable, energy efficient future. Fortunately, this be achieved by electrical engineers and developers who are enabling sustainable business, technology and lifestyle opportunities with new ideas and technologies.”

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