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What challenges do investors in renewable energy encounter and how can they be addressed

In the dynamic landscape of renewable energy, a concerning trend emerges as investors find themselves failing soon after initiating discussions with local municipalities and residents in their pursuits to materialize plans for the construction of wind or solar power plants.

Successful outcomes, where investors achieve mutually beneficial agreements with municipalities and their citizens, seems to be a rarity as of now. Despite experts’ emphasis on expanding renewable energy sources, these efforts face a wide range of challenges. What are the most common problems?

Lack of support from municipalities

The municipal authorities represent a significant partner for investors seeking to establish a wind or solar power plant within the municipality’s territory. Municipality is also the main party mandated to finalize the project contract with the investor. Any negative stance from representatives of the affected area can undoubtedly be a significant – 

given the complexity of the permitting process – even insurmountable obstacle. This is evidenced by a recent unsuccessful attempt at a similar project in three border municipalities in the Czech Republic, where the municipal authorities categorically opposed the construction of wind power plants and directed their dissent directly to the Ministry of the Environment. The window of opportunity has closed for this investor. Any further project of the same type will be entering into an already affected territory, which is inherently hostile towards the construction of wind power plants.

Citizens’ Discord

Another important party in negotiating the investor’s proposal are local citizens. Residents of the affected municipality may have concerns, particularly about the impact of power plants on their health, the character of the landscape, and the environment. Unfortunately, despite the growing importance of wind and solar power plants in recent years, the issue of sustainable energy remains burdened with many myths and misinformation. The lack of quality information, failure to clarify entrenched misinformation, and misunderstanding of the needs and concerns of the local community can lead to the failure of the entire project. It is not only for these reasons, but it is absolutely necessary to initiate a dialogue with the local community and dedicate time to gradually map out their opinions, ideas, and doubts.

Inadequate and non-transparent communication 

A lack of communication or poorly executed communication with the municipality and its citizens, the attempt to push forward the investment plan hastily at any cost, insufficient clarification of misinformation and concerns related to the project, all contribute to conflicts and disagreements. The investor is entering the territory of the municipality which is home to local citizens. Therefore it cannot be expected that the investment plan will automatically receive support. Definitely not without sufficient discussion of the project, understanding of the local community, and building mutual trust.

Solving these interrelated issues requires an open and transparent dialogue among the investor, the municipal authorities, and the citizens. Involving the local community in the discussion process, listening to people’s needs and concerns, and gaining their trust may indeed be time-consuming, but it is a non-financial investment in future cooperation and relationship. Our field experiences confirm that participation is a valuable tool for overcoming the aforementioned problems. Active citizen involvement reduces the risk of conflict in the final stage of the investor’s implementation of the plan and thus increases the chances of the entire project’s success.

We have become convinced about this, for example, during participatory discussions in the village of Anenská Studánka, where residents supported the intention to build wind power plants in a referendum, or in Vojtěchov, where the outcome of a municipal survey was crucial for the municipal authorities. In both cases, the process lasted several months.

Would you like to avoid potential issues with your investment plan and learn more about participation? Do you already have a specific experience with a wind or solar power project and would like to discuss it with us? Get in touch with us at info@participationfactory.com.