Green energy from the grassroots

The world’s industrial superpowers – the United States, Europe, and China – are now in open competition for resources and talent to create a green-energy future. The European Commission, for example, revised its rules today for sourcing raw materials needed for batteries in response to moves by the U.S. and China. Yet a focus on this struggle may miss a potential game changer in climate action: citizen-led action on renewable energy.

A new study of more than 30,000 citizen-led energy projects in Europe – ranging from rooftop solar panels to public electric-vehicle charging stations – points to a new era of energy democracy shaped by abundance and shared security. Published this month in Scientific Reports, the study done by Western Norway University provides the first quantitative measure of how climate change is compelling societies to bind together in new ways to reinvent prosperity and stability.

Energy security in the 20th century was largely managed by governments and major companies. Yet the transition to renewables could pivot on energy projects that rely on broad-based participation – or equality and inclusivity. The World Bank estimates that investments in green energy need to triple by 2030 and that up to 70% of that capital will come from private sources.