NIRA and the University of Tokyo*: International Workshop
'Renewable Energy Development and Citizen Participation'
-with reference to wind power
Joint Comments of the WorkshopApril 20, 2002
Research Background at NIRA
NIRA conducted a research project on the "Development of New Energy Sources and the Participation of Citizens" beginning last June, which took wind power generation as an example.
In this project, we considered the decision-making process of new energy policies and how technological evaluation should be made. We found that goal setting for the introduction of new energy sources had not been thoroughly debated. Comparisons of various kinds of new energy technologies had not been sufficiently evaluated, either.
Additionally, we conducted a survey on the introduction of wind power in each region. As a result, we found that government subsidies and the symbolic value of wind turbines were incentives for introducing wind power. The importance of regional initiatives for wind power generation was also clarified.
Participants' Common Awareness
The solution of energy and environmental problems requires advanced expertise, but it is widely recognized that decision-making conducted exclusively by specialists and central governments has reached its limit. In Europe and the United States, new policy mechanisms have been developed and have achieved success in the introduction and diffusion of renewable energy sources. These mechanisms differ from traditional policies concerning the introduction of new technologies by instituting broader participation by citizens in the decision-making process.
It will therefore be of great benefit in considering future energy and environmental issues, and especially policies for the development and diffusion of technologies, to share and learn from the experience of citizen participation in Europe, the U.S., and Japan.
Flow of Discussions
Session 1 "Citizen Participation in Energy Policy"
Citizen participation is important to energy policy making. It can help establish dialogue among policy makers, industry, and citizens regarding the feasibility and desirability of different energy path. The extent and form of citizen participation varies significantly across, and even within countries. There is much potential for cross-societal learning regarding means for promoting citizen participation in energy policy development.
Session 2 "The Role of Citizen in Renewable Energy Development"
Comparing wind power technological development among nations, we found that the United State's policy is market-oriented. Citizens may play an economic role. In the early days as investor in wind energy; nowadays as a purchaser of green power, whether as an individual or as a group community, university, etc. In Europe, citizens have played an important role in the development of wind energy. Many aspects are taken into account in setting up policies, environmental issue, but also industrial and employment issues.
Wind energy might become an interesting option for Japan. It seems wise to take into consideration all above mentioned aspects in setting up policies and give special attention to the role that citizens may have on both the implementation and policymaking process. It is important to realize that public participation places responsibility on both policy makers and citizens. Moreover, an important condition for public participation is a well-informed public.
Session 3 "Wind Power Generation and Regionality in Europe"
It was reported that wind power generation in Europe has been growing rapidly during the 1990s, based on a supportive regulatory framework in countries like Denmark, Germany and Spain. Wind power increasingly contributes to security of energy supply, local and regional development, employment as well as environment protection. Technological innovation and citizen participation has been another important feature of European development.
Transparency of statistical data has helped to foster innovation. Monitoring and evaluation of wind data has been supported by special public R&D programs.
Session 4 "The Role of Citizens in Environmental Policy and Renewable Energy Development"
It is increasingly acknowledged that citizen participation techniques are needed to help overcome problems in achieving a sustainable society. In particular, methods and techniques are needed to allow citizens to guide and assist the choice and assessment of technologies. To this end, new technologies for consultation should be developed and existing techniques refined. Groups and individuals who are skilled and experienced in mediation can assist this process.
Based on the above discussions, this workshop proposes the following summary comments.
(1) Citizen participation in energy and environmental policies is important for improving the policies themselves and promoting their smooth implementation and operation.
(2) The methods of citizen participation can vary in accordance with the differences between nation and local level, and between the stage of development and that of diffusion of technology. To realize various citizen participation, providing sufficient information to citizen is one of the important conditions. In particular, to enable citizen participation from the technological development stage is important. One example of this is to create feedback circuits for the selection of appropriate options based on the local knowledge of residents of various regions.
(3) Citizen participation is also necessary to enable more pluralistic and transparent decision-making rather than promoting specific technologies and policies. It is essential to adapt the form of participation to the prevailing circumstances.
(4) Given the differences in political situations and technologies among Japan, the U.S. and the countries of Europe, it will be of international benefit to study the experiences of each country and region concerned in the field of energy, environment and technology, and to develop a model suited to Japanese conditions.
*cosponsored by NIRA(National Institute for Research Advancement) and the Department of Sociology, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo.
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