Public still backs renewables

Public support for renewable energy sources remains high as concern over UK supplies of fossil fuels meeting demand drops.

New figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have shown that 79 per cent of the public support the use of renewables, with only 1 per cent strongly opposed. Solar has the highest support (82 per cent), followed by offshore wind and wave and tidal (both 75 per cent).

Commenting on the research, Renewable UK chief executive Hugh McNeal said: “It’s great to see public support for onshore wind has reached its highest ever level, at an overwhelming 71 per cent. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of new power generation available in Britain, so it makes sense to use it to keep people’s electricity bills as low as possible”.

The statistics also revealed that concerns over the UK supplies of fossil fuels not being sufficient to meet demand dropped 55 per cent, compared with 60 per cent in the previous survey in April 2016. Concern over the UK becoming too dependent on energy from other countries decreased from 67 per cent in April, to 61 per cent, and concern over not investing fast enough in alternative energy sources decreased by 4 per cent.

Interestingly, support for nuclear energy showed a decrease of 5 per cent to 33 per cent since April 2016, with a quarter of the public opposed. This figure comes after the announcement that the 3,200MWe Hinkley Point C nuclear plant will go ahead in Somerset.

Green independent supplier Good Energy’s chief executive Juliet Davenport was also pleased with the latest figures showing support for renewables and opposition against nuclear: “Government should listen to public opinion, champion renewable energy and throw its weight behind tackling climate change. What would you rather picnic next to – a wind turbine or a nuclear reactor? I know which one I’d choose.”

Whilst levels of trust in energy suppliers have shown little change from previous waves of the report, respondents remained likely to trust supplier to provide an accurate bill (69 per cent) but were slightly less likely to say that suppliers would give customers a good deal (60 per cent). Worries over paying for energy bills though, dropped to their lowest level since the tracker began in 2012 with 21 per cent either very or fairly worried about paying for their energy bills.

A further delay to the smart meter rollout as the Data and Communications Company (DCC) failed to go live with the network, appears not to have hampered the awareness of smart meters which the survey highlights has increased by 4 per cent since April 2016.

The full smart meter rollout is due to begin on 31 October, dependent on the DCC going-live after several delays from the original date of December 2015.