A renewable energy council is an organization invested in exploring and integrating renewable energy options into a community. Typically non-governmental agencies, renewable energy councils perform a variety of functions related to research, development, and implementation of new technology. The interest of a renewable energy council can be extremely narrow or broad in focus, with different organizations becoming involved in local, regional, country-wide, or even global efforts to improve and increase the use of renewable energy sources.
The goal of most renewable energy councils is quite similar: to improve the renewable energy market in order to make it a viable option in an area. There are several means a renewable energy council can use in pursuit of this goal. Many councils employ environmental scientists and researchers, in order to gain accurate data on current energy use and chart any possible damage or pollution caused by non-renewable energy sources. By releasing statistics regarding environmental damage and other potential problems with current power trends, councils can raise public awareness about the need for new choices.
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Some councils focus on educating the public about renewable energy options and the environmental impact caused by non-sustainable forms of power. Raising environmental awareness about energy-caused pollution is an important factor in getting consumers to want a renewable choice. By teaching the public about the potential benefits of renewable energy, such as environmental stability, potentially lower energy costs and the possibility of new jobs in the renewable energy industries, a renewable energy council can help create a better market for new forms of alternative energy.
Many renewable energy councils are listed as non-profit or charitable organizations. Although membership varies from one group to another, members are often businesses or corporations geared toward creating renewable energy products or technology. Some groups also allow individual membership. and many accept public donations toward specified causes or operations. Since the members of renewable energy councils are often involved in the energy industry, information and statistics released by the groups is often seen by critics as subjective.
A renewable energy council can be any size, from a school district organization to a multi-national effort. One of the largest councils in existence is the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), which acts as an umbrella group for nine other major European alternative energy groups. In the United States, one of the largest alternative energy groups is the American Council on Renewable Energy, a Washington DC-based organization with over 600 affiliated businesses. The American Council is notable for its frequent talks with the US State Department, and is seen by some as the most influential renewable energy council in the United States.