Renewables still top of the UK energy ‘popularity parade’

Green Highland Renewables workersThe latest annual DECC public attitudes opinion poll has showed that renewables have once again topped the energy ‘popularity chart’.

Support for renewable energy has been consistently high during the tracker in previous surveys at around 75-80% and this has crept up even further, with 81% expressing support for the use of renewables.

Interestingly, public opinion is fairly evenly divided over the ‘NIMBY’ issue – Just over half said they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their own area (56%).

Nearly eight people in ten agreed that renewable energy developments should provide direct benefits to the communities in which they are located (77%), whilst seven in ten (70%) agreed that renewable industries and developments provide economic benefits to the UK.

Support for the use of nuclear energy has remained fairly stable over the life of the tracker, with 39% supporting nuclear power and 23% opposed.

In supplementary questions on nuclear energy, however, almost half (49%) of the public were most likely to agree that nuclear energy is a reliable source of energy, compared with 14% that disagreed.

Respondents were also more likely to agree than disagree with each of the other three statements: whether nuclear energy provides affordable energy for the UK (37% vs. 16%), whether it will help to tackle climate change (35% vs. 21%), and whether it is safe (34% vs. 29%).

When asked whether they support or oppose extracting shale gas, half of the public neither supported nor opposed it (46% neither supported nor opposed it and 4% did not know).

In addition, some had never heard of fracking (12%), or were still making up their mind about it (10%). Of those who did offer an opinion, more people were opposed (31%) to fracking than supported it (19%).

Commenting, Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive, RenewableUK, said: “It’s great that the British public sees how renewable energy is helping to grow the UK economy. Renewables are delivering investment and jobs throughout our country”.

An independent report by BiGGAR Economics last year found that the onshore wind industry generated £906 million in revenue to the UK economy in 2014. Each megawatt of onshore wind installed also brings in more than £2 million to the UK over its lifetime – and around 70% of the industry’s total spend remains in the UK.

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