How can we tell the renewable energy story?

Telling the whole renewable energy story is far from simple.

Year after year, we report successes in the power sector. Renewable power has made fantastic progress. But recently growth has been slowing, and progress in the power sector is only a small part of the picture. To make sure the entire energy system changes, we need to develop compelling narratives, bust myths, and encourage debate on the forgotten topics of the energy transition.

On this page:

  • Moving outside the renewable bubble
  • Connecting to mainstream media
  • Bridging to other sectors and players

Moving outside the renewable bubble

At REN21, we know that our worldwide community of experts can prove that the transition to renewable energy is possible and desirable – and not just for climate reasons. By providing data and information on the transition, we improve the narrative around the renewable energy story.

But to make it happen, we must leave our comfort zones and involve non-energy players in the debate. The best knowledge doesn’t serve change if it remains restricted to our own community. Good must not only be done but also be seen.

”The one that tells the story rules the World.”
Proverb of the Hopi-Indians

Reliable, accessible and timely renewable energy information and data are essential for making renewables visible. REN21 uses it to inform, convince, attract decision makers’ interest, and shape the future – establishing energy plans or defining baselines, policies, and regulatory frameworks, and monitoring progress. Data provide the starting point for developing narratives that make perceptions evolve and influence the future of renewable energy.

Communication is key to wield the power to achieve our vision.

    • We shine a light on the benefits of renewable energy in terms of climate protection, health and environmental improvements, social justice, employment and the economy – also by contrasting them with the damages caused by nuclear and fossil fuels. We highlight new developments and interesting case studies, successes and failures that others can learn from.
    • We turn facts and figures into compelling stories, meaningful comparisons and rankings which are relevant to our respective audiences – both supporters and critics.
    • We meet and listen to our opponents, measure and analyse underlying issues of controversies, and respond to them.
    • We invite the people of the world to participate, to share their knowledge, to experiences and concerns, and to support us.
    • We embrace core journalistic principles and produce our own news on specific topics and occasions which are identified in line with our strategic priorities.

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Connecting to mainstream media

The general public is an open marketplace for opinions and topics. Although there are some opinions or topics that temporarily dominate the media, politics or popular culture, there is always a multitude and simultaneousness of them creating cross-references and influencing one another. Mainstream media is the main platform for reaching the general public, outside the renewable energy bubble. In order to reach this audience, REN21 aims to be connected with the mass media’s reporting on renewables, and related subjects and themes.

Bridging to other sectors and players

We must broaden perspectives if we want to tell the full renewable energy story. We must look beyond electricity to also tackle the heating, cooling and transport sectors.

So far, the shift from nuclear and fossil fuels to renewable energy has largely happened in the power sector. Other sectors such as heating, cooling and transport still predominantly depend on fossil fuels.

Different sectors offer different opportunities for synergies. But first, we need to better understand each other, and our different entry points to the debate. The use of renewables and energy efficiency in buildings depends as much on architects as on utilities, the phasing out of gas as much as on citizen behaviour as on urban planners and engineers.

To achieve a sustainable energy transition, we need to connect the generation of renewable energy and the different energy end-use sectors. Renewables and energy efficiency in end-uses must go hand in hand.

This is why we want to:

      • Create opportunities for debate
      • Attend events and develop shared understanding
      • Establish partnerships to develop entry points for renewables

By putting ourselves ‘out there’ and having discussions with varied stakeholders, we are able to find opportunities which align with what matters to them.

Simple language is fundamental for dialogue and partnerships. People disengage when language is not relevant or understandable, such as when jargon and abbreviations are used. Sounding like human beings rather than a script written by committee allows us to make our ideas clearer. This enables clearer thinking by the reader. Our messages will reach people much more effectively, and cut across different groups of players.

REN21 is convinced that communicating the connections between renewable energy and broader concerns, like energy sovereignty, health and clean air, social justice, jobs… will result in a fundamental shift in how people think about energy.

Become a part of the REN21 community and help push boundaries!

Get in touch with us.