The Obstacles Holding Back Sustainable Energy

Although sustainable energy sources have huge potential to change the world as we know it for the better, and most modern consumers will opt for the greener option even if it costs more, there are a number of barriers which are standing in the way of any decent progress.

Although more and more steps are being taken by governments and businesses to overcome these obstacles, they remain very real, and something that it pays to be aware of. In this post, we’ll look at some of the biggest challenges facing the progress of sustainable energy…


Prospecting is just one of the many infrastructure-based challenges that’s holding back the much-needed progress of the sustainable energy business. Before any apparatus for generating clean energy is able to operate, developers need to be able to find sites with access to transmission lines, good resources, and that are publicly acceptable in the local community. This may sound fairly simple, but it’s often a long and complex process. Potential wind farms, for example, can require several years of monitoring to determine whether or not they’re suitable for development.


The permitting requirements that are tied to sustainable energy are also a big obstacle that needs to be addressed. While the permitting requirements for more conventional energy sources have been well-defined for a number of years, and are thoroughly understood by pretty much everyone in the individual industries, sustainable energy often involves new kinds of issues and impacts to the ecosystem. Furthermore, any kind of standardised rules are still in the process of being established.


In times gone by, people had no real choice about where their electricity came from. For the majority of history, most people were just grateful to have electricity at all! However, with increased electricity deregulation, the market’s opened up so that most people have a range of choices to go with. The problem, is, they need to be convinced to switch to a greener energy source. While various apps and other technologies have been shown to help tackle sustainable energy challenge in this area, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Modern businesses tied in with the renewable energy niche are doing all they can to convince customers they should switch over from traditional sources, but public education is still expected to be a critical part in a truly functional market.

Installation and Maintenance

Workers involved in the sustainable energy niche need to be trained to install, operate, and then maintain these new technologies. There are also new training requirements involved in more specialised tasks tied to the industry, such as growing, harvesting and transporting biomass fuels. Some renewables even require operating experience in certain climate conditions before performance can really be optimized. For example, the optimal spacing for wind turbines in southern England is going to be vastly different from what it is along the east coast of Sweden.

Institutional Barriers

Another big obstacle is the fact that both commercial and industrial customers are generally less familiar with renewables than conventional energy sources, and have various institutional barriers standing between them and purchasing renewable energy. The people in charge of industrial energy wherever you find it are trained only to find the most low-cost solutions to their business’s needs. Even industrial energy managers will focus on in-house sources of pollution, and with everything else big businesses do to harm the environment, the way the company is using electricity is fairly unlikely to cross their minds. Even electricity companies, with a lot of knowledge about the importance of sustainable energy, may be unfamiliar with how renewable energy could be integrated with their existing systems, or the local resources that are actually available.

Sky-High Transaction Costs

When it comes to sustainable energy, fairly small projects often have very high transaction costs at various stages of the development cycle. For example, it costs significantly more for banks and other financial institutions to evaluate the trustworthiness of several smaller projects working towards sustainable energy, than it would with one big project. Aside from that, it takes a lot more for marketing companies to negotiate contracts for a number of smaller projects, and to sell to and sign up residential buyers; the most likely segment of the market to switch to renewables. Although the future of the world is at stake here, money still dictates a lot of the big decisions!

There we have some of the biggest obstacles standing between the present, and a world where sustainable energy is the norm. Hopefully, they won’t be a problem for too much longer!

2 responses to “The Obstacles Holding Back Sustainable Energy

  1. The EU should establish a subsidy program for people in Southern Europe to put solar panels on their roofs, so that they can sell the energy generated that way to, say, Germany. This way we can solve several problems in Europe, the poor financial situation in Southern Europe and our dependence on authoritarian regimes in Russia and the Middle-East.

  2. Pingback: Is Technology Saving the Planet… or Killing It? | MissBlue Blog·

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