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Survey suggests increase in public support for renewable energy

Words: Laura Edgar
Wind energy / Shutterstock_307407380

There has been an increase in the level of public support for renewable energy in the UK, according to the government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker results.

The survey was set up in March 2012 by the then Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) so the government could understand and monitor public attitudes to the department’s business priorities.

It continues now under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The tracker comprises one annual survey each March, and three shorter surveys in June, September and December.

According to the 23rd wave of the survey, undertaken between 27 September and 1 October 2017, and compared with the same period a year earlier there has been an increase of 5 per cent from 77 per cent to 82 per cent in public support for renewable energy.

Just 3 per cent of respondents said they were opposed and 1 per cent strongly opposed to renewable energy.

Breaking it down, 84 per cent said they supported solar energy; 79 support offshore wind, wave and tidal energy; 74 support onshore wind, and 69 per cent support biomass.

When it comes to nuclear energy, the survey notes that 33 per cent support it, while 25 per cent are opposed. Forty per cent said they neither support nor oppose nuclear energy.

Of those asked, 78 per cent said they were aware of fracking but just 13 per cent stated they knew a lot about fracking. Forty-seven per cent said they knew little while 18 per cent said they had heard of the practice but didn’t really know what it was. Of those asked, 36 per cent are opposed to fracking while 13 per cent support it. Forty-eight per cent neither support nor oppose it.


James Court, head of policy and external affairs at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “Following an extraordinary year for the industry, seeing record highs for generation and dramatic falls in prices, it is not surprising that public support for renewables has risen and is the most popular form of generation.

“We now need the government to see what the public have seen and take the brake off this sector. Cheap forms of power such as onshore wind, solar, and biomass remain blocked to market whilst nuclear, diesel, and gas are still receiving government support.”

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director, RenewableUK, said: “Onshore wind is the cheapest way to generate power and there is clear public support for this technology, which can keep consumer bills low. In many parts of the UK new wind farms that have public support are currently blocked from competing in the market.

“The popularity of offshore wind and marine renewables remain sky-high as they are breathing new life into coastal communities and building vibrant supply chains up and down the country. An overwhelming 82 per cent of people support developing all types of renewable energy – so when it comes to reaching out to voters, renewable energy is an issue that matters”.  

The survey can be found on the BEIS website.

* The survey comprises 2,105 responses from households in the UK, taken from face-to-face interviews.

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