Recipient of the 2016 Prize


A United States Sustainable Energy Transition Based on Successful International Models


Quinn Massaroni

Bryant University

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We, the global community, find ourselves at a pivotal time in the history of mankind. Citizens and governments today have the responsibility of addressing the issue of climate change knowing that the result of their actions today will continue to affect life on Earth from this point forward. The United States would play a pivotal role in establishing sustainable economic and political behaviors throughout the world, yet we have been slow to change the status quo in the American energy industry. The problem is known; climate change is a real and imminent threat to the world. The question that I address in the subsequent research paper is – What conditions will lead to a more effective energy transition in the United States?

My search for successful energy transitions led me to Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands which have transformed their energy industries and are working towards ambitious goals for clean energy consumption. These three nations served as models for my research. I evaluated each nation’s energy transition and related them to the United States based on economic, political, and social conditions.

Based on the similarities and differences I found between the model nations and the US, I developed recommendations for our country to achieve their own energy transition.

The first recommendation refers to the political culture in the United States. The political atmosphere in the US is far more stratified than the systems of my European models. This led me to the conclusion that states would be more effective conductors for energy transition than the federal government. State-led green initiatives would also result in a diverse energy market, which is often considered an economic strength.

I found that the social conditions in the model nations were more hospitable to drastic energy transitions; the citizens of these nations almost unanimously supported the government’s green energy policies. The US does not enjoy undivided support for an energy transition which means that this country needs to implement an incremental transition. Our government cannot expect to be successful if they force drastic lifestyle changes on its citizenry.

The economy and business atmosphere in the US closely reflects the social culture. There are many economic interests that would be destroyed if the US conducted an energy transition like Germany’s. Therefore, this nation needs to support sustainable investing which will provide a necessary boost to green technology, industry, and research. With the right financial support, renewable energy technologies can become as economically appealing as conventional energy, which will lead to widespread public acceptance and enthusiasm for a sustainable energy transition.

This research does not “reinvent the wheel” rather it offers valid, implementable solutions for dealing with a major global threat. The relative simplicity of these recommendations also make them adoptable immediately with adequate support.

© Quinn Massaroni

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