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Incentives that are tailor-made for situations and individuals (people or communities).

This idea is more a discussion on different kind of incentives, from personal to community, direct and in-direct. I think different people and communities need different kind of incentives, depending on their situation and also depending on the maturity of the community and solution. I hope to provide a framework or model that can be used when coming up with solutions for different communities, and in that way avoid to invent the (incentive) wheel every time. This is what I describe here.

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I think we need to think beyond personal incentives to create a long-term commitment, even though personal incentives (monetised) are a very powerful way to get things going, see e.g., lower waste collection fees for waste that can be used to create bio-fuel in Stockholm (

I also think we need to apply different incentives at different stages and to different communities. 


This is a start of a list of different types of incentives that I have come up with, together with examples of each one. If you’re interested in adding or improve on it, just tell me. 

Personal incentives (direct)
This is incentives that directly gives back to the person that does something. An example would be the one I use above, sorting waste will give you a lower waste collection fee, another could be utilities buying your surplus solar panel electricity. 

Personal incentives (in-direct)
This is incentives that will in-directly affect you, e.g., tax cuts when buying solar panels, or getting lower energy bills if your solar panels is connected to the grid for surplus. 

Personal to community incentives
My thinking here is that you personally do something that increases the use of renewable energy, e.g., feeding surplus energy to the grid, or maybe sorting waste for bio-fuel in a community, and the community gives back in another form (i am hard pressed to come up with something good, maybe free parking for your electric car could be it if you have one).
Community incentives
This is incentives on a community level, e.g., a small housing complex is using solar panels that together are feeding into a utility grid (not every person), and the community together get some kind of incentive. This is to create incentives for other than single persons to convert to renewables. 

Humanitarian incentives
Some are more motivated by helping others than they are getting the incentives themselves. An example could for example be to buy one solar panel set for yourself and another is installed somewhere it is needed. 

Company incentives
Also companies need incentives to do changes, e.g., tax credits. 

Un-incentives (fines that is)
I am not very fond of fines, but they might be needed to get some entities to change. 

Different incentives at different stages

You also need to take into consideration that different communities need or want different incentives. Communities are at different stages of cohesion and maturity, and also at different stages of how much they already have done when it come to renewables. 



This is an example of how this could be put into a matrix to help understanding what incentives work in which situation. This should be built on best practices and proven results, and should also be updated all the time. 

What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

This incentive thinking is of benefit for many different communities, as it will put context to what works in different settings. For a very affluent community it might be enough to change to renewable because it is a good thing to do, while other communities might be more interested in lowering costs both short and long term. The players are mainly those who can provide incentives, e.g., cities, states, countries etc (that can give tax-credits but also in some places own the utility companies) , the utility companies that can use incentives to change business models, but also communities that if large enough can put pressure on a utility company.

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

Incentives are a powerful driver for change, and if carefully used can build long-lasting changes into a community. Incentives can be the small change that bring enough people onboard to make that big change, and in some cases be the only way to change.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

For example get the owner of the house I live in to install easy ways to sort my waste to enable it turning into bio-fuel I can lower my rent, or installing solar panels to run machines that is paid for by all tenants.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I would like to hear about more ideas on types on incentives that people have seen. I have given a few links to research done by other people, but I am sure there are more out there.

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:

  • My post doesn't mention a specific type of energy

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  • An Individual


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Photo of Patrik Malmberg

I think we should focus on the concrete idea ( Nathan built from this idea, instead of spreading thin on two fronts? What do you think?

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