On paper, renewable energy seems like a good idea. But in the rush to install it, renewable energy advocates appear oblivious to how the technology fits into the environment.

John Wood, a homeowner in Woodbury, Minn., wanted to put solar panels on his roof. Last month, his homeowners association rejected his application.

“I felt extremely disappointed,” Mr. Wood said by telephone.

He added: “It made me think that homeowners associations are in place to do only one thing, and that is to maintain the status quo, and they have no interest in any sort of change whatsoever.”

Al Rudnickas, the president of the board of the Wedgewood Association, the homeowners’ group, said that the board was open to less obtrusive technologies like solar shingles. But in this case, “The feeling of the board was that what was proposed wasn’t aesthetically pleasing in keeping with the standards of the community,” he said.Mr. Rudnickas said that the association invited Mr. Wood to submit a modified application, but Mr. Wood — who is the first homeowner in the association to apply for solar panels — said he was not sure whether he will do so.

In a word, most of these installations are ugly. Solar thermal panels tacked on to a roof or wind turbines jutting out of the countryside are not pretty. It is not enough to paint them green and expect everyone to be happy about it. 

Aesthetics are important. Consequently, if these technologies are to proliferate, more thought needs to be put into how they look.

Advertisements