Who owns renewable energy? : an argument for independent ownership

Fagan, Paul

July 2015

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© 2015 Paul Fagan. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

As the use of renewable energy becomes more commonplace in the twenty-first century, it will become increasingly more important to ask the question ‘who owns renewable energy?’ Here, it is argued that there exists a human right to own energy per se and from this base it is also argued that a human right to own renewable energy exists; additionally, group rights to renewable energy should be accommodated. It is further argued that responsibilities such as domestic energy provision, sustainability and international justice should be addressed. Hence, this research has necessitated a new concept of ownership for renewable energy consisting of a collection of tenets composed of rights and responsibilities. Additionally, an array of potential ownership types derived from differing political philosophies have been applied to an impartial thought experiment and the research reveals instances where renewable energy may be owned by entities ranging from single individuals to whole societies. That said, it is noted that renewable energy offers a unique solution to the question of ownership as it is an unlimited resource and all the technology to harness this resource already exists. These facets allow the recommendation of a type of independent ownership, whereby identifiable entities ranging in size from individuals to communities may harness and use energy by themselves, rather than purchasing energy from centralised supplies such as state-run enterprises or private companies. This ownership type has been influenced by, although not entirely, John Locke’s work concerning property.

Department of Politics, Philosophy and International Studies, The University of Hull
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