Survey reveals widespread support for Renewables

A survey recently carried out by YouGov has revealed that a majority of the British population is in favour of both increased renewable energy development and the use of government subsidies as funding . The results were based upon a sample of around 1,700 people. The survey had been commissioned by the Sunday Times but is yet to appear in the paper. It is unclear as to why this is the case.

The survey asked the initial question; “Thinking about the country’s future energy provision, do you think the government should be looking to use more or less of the following?” and returned the following results:

Solar power
More than at present – 74%
Less than at present – 6%
Maintain current levels – 12%
Not sure – 9%

Wind farms
More than at present – 56%
Less than at present – 19%
Maintain current levels – 15%
Not sure – 9%

Nuclear power stations
More than at present – 35%
Less than at present – 27%
Maintain current levels – 23%
Not sure – 15%

Oil power stations
More than at present – 10%
Less than at present – 47%
Maintain current levels – 27%
Not sure – 17%

Coal power stations
More than at present – 16%
Less than at present – 43%
Maintain current levels – 25%
Not sure – 17%

These figures demonstrate that the public have identified renewables as the future of the country’s energy policy with only a minority believing that new fossil fuel plants are the way forward. It should be noted that the older a person is the more likely they are to support new nuclear plants and less likely to support renewable developments.

The survey went on to ask the following questions:

“Do you think the government is right or wrong to subsidise wind farms to encourage more use of wind power?”

Right 60%
Wrong 26%
Don’t know 15%

Do you think increased use of wind power is or is not a realistic way of combating climate change?

Realistic 47%
Not realistic 36%
Don’t know 16%

Do you think increased use of solar power is or is not a realistic way of combating climate change?

Realistic 67%
Not realistic 18%
Don’t know 15%

These results demonstrate that the majority of people can see the benefits of the Feed-in tariff in encouraging renewable energy developments to reduce carbon emissions, tackle climate change and give the country energy security. This is despite a concerted campaign in some areas of the media against renewables and the spread of misinformation about the impact green subsidies are having on energy bills, particularly compared to ever increasing wholesale gas prices.

James Murray, of BusinessGreen, described the poll results as “explosive” and the “best kind of early Christmas present”.

The survey comes as the end of a year which has been described as “exceptional” for renewables by the Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. Much investmentment has occurred in the Scottish Renewable Energy Sector in 2011, demonstrated by the recent announcement that SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) is to create an offshore wind hub in Dundee (which recently missed out on a similar development by Spanish turbine manufacturer Gamesa) and create 700 jobs.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, commented: “Even as 2011 comes to a close we are continuing  to welcome major announcements from international companies such as Gamesa, who have signaled an interest in establishing a presence in Leith, and SSE who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with key figures in Dundee to build an offshore wind hub and create 700 jobs.

“It’s announcments like these that have helped grow public support for renewables too.”

We can but hope the good news continues in 2012.

 

 

Scottish Government to launch Community Benefit Register

Last week the Scottish Government announced that a Register of Community Benefits is to be created for renewable developments. The register will record the details of any Community Benefits entered into between developers and local communities. Community Benefits are generally organised on the basis of an agreed annual fee based upon the amount of energy produced by a development. Recently the trade body RenewableUK produced a protocol for Community Benefits which specified a minimum annual payment of £1,000 per megawatt. The register will be available to the public after it’s launch next year.

A huge number of community projects have taken advantage of the community benefits many developers (including ourselves) offer.

For instance there are new children’s playgrounds, apprenticeship schemes, graduate bursaries, charity groups and many other organisations which have received additional or essential funding as a result of renewable energy developments. Indeed, Community Benefits have proven so beneficial that some Local Authority Areas have now made them mandatory for any wind turbine development. We at ILI-Renewable Energy would like to note that we offer double the level of funding required by certain councils.

The Community Benefit Register was launched by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism at the Scottish Green Business Awards, Mr Fergus Ewing.

He commented that the Register would allow community groups to ensure they were getting a fair offer for developers:

“This new register will allow local communities to enter negotiations with developers – from those putting up single turbines on farms and estates to those building the largest schemes – on an even footing.

“An established renewables developer will always know the ‘going rate’ for community benefits, but a community which has never negotiated before, and those rural businesses developing for the first time, may not.”

Whilst we do feel that the Register will prove to be beneficial in this way we feel that MR Ewing did not mention one of the major benefits such a Register will bring. The entire renewables industry will benefit from having a list, in the public domain, of all of the various good causes, essential services and community groups which are being supported  in these difficult times of austerity.