Bio-energy is as popular as wind power with British public

There is strong public support for producing bioenergy in the UK from both biomass and waste, with 80% of people in favour of bioenergy playing a bigger part in the UK’s energy mix, according to a new survey carried out for the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

The YouGov survey commissioned by the ETI – where private sector partners include BP, Shell, Rolls-Royce and EDF –  questioned over 5,300 GB adults to gauge public perceptions of bioenergy in the UK.

It found that 74% of people surveyed support producing bioenergy from biomass and 81% support producing biomass from waste.

Wind-power regularly receives similar, if not higher, popular support in opinion polls.

Generating energy from waste and being a renewable source of energy were seen as the most positive features of bioenergy and the public would be comfortable with a mix of imported and domestic biomass feedstocks, provided imports are used in addition to, not instead of, domestic resources.

Over a third of respondents were concerned about biomass competing with other land uses such as food production, but ETI case studies have shown that they can complement each other.

The Government (31%) is seen as the most popular choice to lead the development of the UK bioenergy sector.

Hannah Evans
Hannah Evans

Hannah Evans, a bio-energy strategy analyst at the ETI, said: Delivering bioenergy on a large scale will be dependent on levels of public support, not just in terms of ensuring new bioenergy generation facilities can obtain planning permission, but also in determining the number of farmers and foresters prepared to plant new bioenergy crops, and whether individuals are willing to install biomass boilers in their homes or workplaces.

“It is encouraging that levels of support for bioenergy compare favourably with other renewable energy technologies and the public associate bioenergy with a wide range of positive features – particularly the fact that it can be generated from waste materials and is also seen as a renewable source of energy that can reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“Building a UK bioenergy sector with continued public support will need greater support for domestic production and increased awareness of the benefits it can bring.

“The UK Government is the most popular choice to lead the development of the bioenergy sector. The public also value the role of scientists, academics, environmental groups and consumer/industry watchdogs, as independent, trustworthy sources of information. This presents an opportunity for the Government to work with a variety of organisations to increase awareness and understanding of bioenergy, in parallel to developing the bioenergy sector in the UK.”

Bioenergy can play a significant and valuable role in the future UK energy system, helping reduce the cost of meeting the UK’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets by more than 1% of gross domestic product (GDP).

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