Green is now mainstream - record support for green energy in UK communities
Posted by Sam Tonge on 2 May 2018 at 2:50 pm
A UK Government survey has found that the number of people supporting renewables has hit record levels.
The 25th survey of the Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT) revealed that individual backing for the use of renewable energy reached a record of 85% - a marked increase from 79% during the last poll taken in February 2018. This is the highest level of support for renewables since the tracker began in 2012. It also reported the joint-lowest figure for people against. The number of people who ‘strongly support’ the use of renewables also hit a record high of 37%.
Solar generation was given the warmest welcome, with 87% of respondents in favour of it, whereas offshore wind came in at a close second, with 83% supporting the technology. Support for other forms of renewable power have also remained high, with 81% supporting wave and tidal energy, 76% for on-shore wind and 69% for biomass.
In contrast, only 38% supported nuclear energy and only 18% supported fracking for shale gas. Those opposed to renewable energy remained very low, at 3%, with only 1% of those sampled ‘strongly opposed’.
What’s thought-provoking about the results are the reasons behind this amplified backing of renewables. It seems that the public is becoming increasingly convinced about the economic benefits and thus the business case for these technologies. The latest survey revealed that 75% felt ‘renewable projects provide economic benefits to the UK’. These priorities are taking precedence over the NIMBY mentality, with two thirds (66%) of respondents said they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their area. It would seem that it’s not just environmentalists that are beginning to see the myriad of social, economic and environmental benefits that renewables can bring to communities across the UK.
The Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT) was launched by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) in 2012 to understand and monitor public attitudes to the Department’s main business priorities.
These encouraging results fall alongside the international support for renewables demonstrated by the Green Energy Barometer (commissioned by Ørsted) during 2017. This broader survey aimed to better understand public opinion on the green energy transition revealed that on average, 8 in 10 believe the world should be run entirely on renewable energy. This also revealed a diverse range of motivations underlying the desire to be green, including patriotism and national pride about leading the way in technology (75%), improved health and wellbeing (53%) and a boost to economic prospects and growth in jobs (73%).
It goes without saying that each survey to gauge attitudes on green energy differs in terms of sample, methodology and underlying motivations, meaning it’s important not to conflate the two sets of results. However, what seems to remain the same across both surveys is increasing and more diverse support for the clean energy transition.
What’s traditionally been seen as a side project for governments and an agenda only of interest to environmentalists appears to be moving increasingly into the mainstream. This can only be a good thing, as people power adds a renewed pressure on businesses, public organisations and governments to hasten the transition to green energy.
The broader the support base for renewables is, the more likely it will be to find its feet in the muddled political agenda. With the business case behind it, can support for renewables continue to grow into a powerful force to bring about a meaningful environment change? It’s certainly a step in the right direction.
About the author:
Sam has contributed to our blog since 2016 and previously worked for the National Energy Foundation.
He became interested in green energy after completing a degree in Geography (BSc) at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Sam is passionate about renewable energy and is committed to spreading the word about the role it plays in delivering environmental sustainability.
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