The cultural barriers to renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States

Sovacool, Benjamin K (2009) The cultural barriers to renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. Technology in Society, 31 (4). pp. 365-373. ISSN 0160-791X

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Abstract

In an effort to make the social dimensions of energy conversion and use more visible, this article investigates the cultural barriers to energy efficiency technologies and devices and renewable power generators in the United States. To discover the cultural impediments to these technologies, the author conducted 181 formal, semi-structured interviews at more than 82 institutions (including electric utilities, regulatory agencies, interest groups, energy systems manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, consulting firms, universities, national laboratories, and state institutions) from 2005 to 2008. These interviews were supplemented with an extensive literature review. The study finds that the apparent disconnect between how electricity is made and how it is socially perceived perpetuates public apathy and misinformation about it; also that deeply held values related to consumption, abundance, trust, control, and freedom shape American attitudes toward energy. As a result, wind farms and solar panels (along with other renewable power systems) are often opposed not because they are a poor alternative to fossil fuels, but because people simply do not comprehend why such technologies may be needed.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Benjamin Sovacool
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2015 15:37
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2016 10:28
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/58170
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