Busting the Myths: WWF’s Work on Debunking Misconceptions about Renewable Energy
“There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths.”
MEXICO CITY. Harvesting our energy from renewable sources is a precondition to realize an energy transition to a sustainable future for all. Renewable energy can raise significantly social and environmental prosperity by securing affordable, reliable and clean energy to everyone. However, despite these multiple benefits, renewables are still subject to several fallacies that distort and undermine their real value. WWF’s Energy Report (2011) shows that renewable energy has the potential to fully meet world’s energy demand and that a sustainable future powered by nature is possible. However, to fully seize this potential, it is crucial step that myths and misconceptions about renewable energy are debunked.
From the economics to the environmental implications of both small and large scale deployment of renewable energy, several myths and misconceptions serve as arguments to dismiss renewables. Usually, these untruths are either promoted by vested interests, ignorance or indeed wrong information.
Renewable energy has a great potential to avoid greenhouse gases emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and thus to mitigate climate change. WWF’s goal is to limit climate change and to support the sustainable production and use of zero-emission energy resources in harmony with nature. WWF supports to fully replace all fossil fuels and nuclear in energy supply and the move to 100% clean and sustainable renewable energy by 2050. In this context, WWF strongly advocates for debunking myths and misconceptions about renewables as a prerequisite to enlarge social support for realizing a fundamental clean and sustainable energy transformation.
WWF has contributed to debunking many of the most popular fallacies about renewable energy throughout different cross-cutting efforts. In the course of distinctive multilevel based, multi audience oriented, thematic overarching and technology broad materials WWF has upheld facts and figures about renewables that provide key fundamentals for a positive paradigm shift towards enlarged and widespread renewable energy acceptance.
For example, through the “Let’s renew: Myths and Realities of Renewable Energies”, WWF Spain (2011) have dismantled some of the most popular myths the Spanish population have had with respect to renewable energy. With this report WWF Spain have contributed to increase Spanish citizens’ awareness about the benefits of renewables, and helped making society perceiving renewable energy as a real and, both technically and economically, viable option for Spain.
On a similar effort, “Myths and facts about the role of renewable energies in Germany’s “Energy Transition”” have responded to common visions of doom and gloom of the “Energiewende”. In this report, WWF Germany (2012) presents ten golden guiding elements for a successful energy transition as well as a dozen of facts that highlight the contribution of renewables to fostering major benefits for the German society, energy supply and economy. Overall, in this report, not only popular myths have been debunked trough relevant data, solid facts, key figures and right contexts, but also WWF has contributed to disseminate the success of this inspiring energy transformation story by showing the different faces renewable energy have in shaping a sustainable energy future for Germany.
A final example of WWF contribution towards increasing social support to renewables is the “Busting the myths: debunking misconceptions about renewable energy” report. This WWF Intl. (2013) “living document” collects evidence and facts about renewables in line with the WWF’s report and WWF’s 100% renewable energy vision. The report provides facts about the current global status of renewable energy as well as its realistic future technical, environmental, economic and policy worldwide landscapes. Additionally, and being the core of the report, it demystifies ten of the most universal misconceptions about renewables with a unique and completely science oriented approach; it covers misconceptions on renewable energy relative to its economic viability, sustainability and technologic reliability and approach their complexity from varied perspectives and focal points and always acknowledging several worldviews.
WWF’s work on debunking misconceptions about renewable energy is far from being limited to the previous examples. Many other WWF materials that debunk myths and misconceptions about renewable energy exist out there. Just to mention a few: the “Power to Change” brief collection by WWF Australia (2009), the “Igniting the Ring of Fire” report by WWF Indonesia (2012); the “Solar PV Atlas” report by WWF Intl.(2012); the “Make the switch” campaign by WWF Uganda (2013); and, the “Renewable Energy” webpage by WWF UK (2013).
Certainly renewable energy is not perfect. But realizing the required transformational changes that a promising future demands needs major shifts in public choices and perception towards renewables; the future of renewable energy is essentially about the choices we take now not about foregone technology or economic conclusions . Relying on “comfortable” myths and misconceptions must not serve as excuse to withhold world’s ability to create a real sustainable future.Solutions are at hand; to seize them, we need to catalyze social support for boosting clean renewable energy. Demystifying myths on renewable energy is a way to put action forward; in this, WWF has a fundamental role to play.
Tabaré A. Currás
Advisor on Energy Economics
WWF-Global Climate and Energy Initiative
Mexico City – MEX
 WWF Intl., “The Energy Report 100% Renewable Energy by 2050,” Gland, 9782940443260, 2011.
 IPCC, Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
 WWF Spain, “Let’s renew: Myths and Realities of Renewable Energies,” Madrid, 2012.
 WWF Germany, “Myths and facts about the role of renewable energies in Germany’s ‘Energy Transition’,” Berlin, 2012.
 WWF Intl., “Busting the myths: debunking misconceptions about renewable energy,” Gland, 2013.
 WWF Australia, “Power to Change,” Australia’s renewable energy industry, 2009. [Online]. Available: http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/people_and_the_environment/global_warming_and_climate_change/solutions/clean_and_renewable_energy/australias_renewable_energy_industry/.
 WWF Indonesia, “Igniting the Ring of Fire,” Jakarta, 2012.
 WWF Intl, “Solar PV Atlas: Solar Power in Harmony with Nature,” Gland, 2012.
 WWF Uganda, “Make the Switch,” About WWF Uganda, 2013. [Online]. Available: http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/uganda/.
 WWF UK, “Busting the wind power myths,” Renewable Energy, 2013. [Online]. Available: http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/renewable-energy/busting-the-wind-power-myths.
 REN21, “Renewables Global Futures Report,” Paris, 2013.