Public support for onshore wind and solar remains strong in the UK according to a new survey published this week. The independent survey commissioned by Good Energy confirmed solar as the country’s most popular form of renewable energy with 76% of those asked stating they support it with 59% backing onshore wind. Only 4% opposed solar and 8% onshore wind.
These new figures follow the most recent government poll, the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) public attitudes tracker, which included in its results was 28% of the public actively opposing fracking with only 3% strongly in favour.
This latest edition of the DECC survey however did not include questions relating to renewable energy sources such as solar and onshore wind, both of which have had their subsides cut recently, despite the questions having been included in all previous DECC polls since they began in 2012.
The Good Energy survey did include the questions missed out in the DECC poll and showed a similar level of support for both technologies as per the recent government surveys.
Speaking of the results from the survey Head of Innovation at Good Energy Will Vooght said: “Renewables have been performing brilliantly recently – providing 22.2% of the UK’s electricity in the first three months of the year. Solar alone provided 15% of our electricity needs on one day last month.
“These stats indicate that opposition to renewables remains consistently low, showing it’s a vocal minority dictating policy – flying in the face of public support.
“The old adage goes ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’. The government seem to have realised they can’t manage public opinion so instead they just won’t measure it.”
Alasdair Cameron, renewables campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: “Renewable energy like wind and solar power is incredibly popular, and it is frankly astonishing that the Government continues to make it harder for people to use it.
“Failing to back renewables now is like attacking mobile phones in the early 1990s – renewables are already far cheaper than nuclear and closing in on gas from new power stations.
“David Cameron is going to have to work really hard in the run up to the climate talks in Paris if he is to convince the world he’s not trying to take the UK back to the dark ages.”
Solar Trade Association spokesperson Sonia Dunlop also commented on the findings: “DECC’s surveys have consistently shown that solar power is the UK’s favourite way of generating electricity. This new survey confirms this.
“We would like to see the Government take solar’s public popularity into account when making key policy decisions on support for this sunshine technology over the next few months.”
Also released recently was the latest data on wind and solar power from WeatherEnergy covering July. Weather wise July was not a good month for Scotland however this proved fruitful for renewable energy generation with wind power providing more than a third of the country’s electricity.
Wind power produced over 660,000 MWh of electricity, enough to cover the average demands of 72% of Scottish homes, the equivalent of 1.75 million households. That’s an increase of 58% on July 2014’s figures according to WWF Scotland.
The amount of electricity used throughout the entire country by residential, business, and industrial consumers topped 1,800,000 MWh for July with 36% of that coming directly from wind power. According to WWF on eight days of the month wind generated enough electricity to supply every home in Scotland.
Lang Banks, WWF Scotland’s director said: “It may have been among one of the wettest and windiest months in decades, but July also turned out to be a belter of a month for wind power in Scotland.
“Thanks to a combination of increased capacity and much windier weather, output from turbines was up more than half compared to the same period last year – supplying power equivalent to the electrical needs of 1.75 million homes.”
In spite of the poor weather solar PV panels captured enough energy to generate 94% of the average electricity need in Aberdeen, compared with 87% in Inverness, 85% in Edinburgh and 79% in Glasgow. In addition for households that use solar power to heat their water, the sunshine generated 92% of an average home’s hot water needs in Aberdeen, compared with 87% in Inverness, 85% in Edinburgh and 74% in Glasgow.
Mr. Banks added: “Despite the clouds and overcast skies, for tens of thousands of homes that have installed solar panels to generate electricity or heat water, around four-fifths of their electricity or hot water needs could have been met by the sun. This all helped Scotland to further reduce its reliance on polluting fossil fuels during July.”
Also announced recently was that the USA will implement more greenhouse gas cuts with the implicit aim of reducing the country’s carbon dioxide emission by 32% of its 2005 levels by 2030.
“Improving energy efficiency and embracing renewables is what is what is going to take the world one step closer to addressing the challenge of global climate change. “It’s therefore great to see President Obama follow Scotland’s lead and throw his weight behind more renewables in the US. It sends a very powerful message globally that more politicians need to get right behind green energy” Mr. Banks added.
Also speaking of the WeatherEnergy figures Mike Mackenzie SNP MSP said: “These outstanding figures are a welcome demonstration of the growing strength of Scotland’s renewables, with a 58 per cent boost on the previous year’s figure showing the incredible strides Scotland is making in producing clean, sustainable energy – and confirming the vital role green energy can play in meeting energy needs.”
Scotland is rich in renewable energy resources and the public is favour of using them. Unfortunately the future of the onshore wind and solar industries – the most advanced and least expensive of the renewable energy technologies – lies in the hands of the UK central government and they have demonstrated over recent weeks a blatant disregard towards them. What seems obvious to the majority of the UK public – a long term need for clean sustainable and affordable energy – is lost in a minefield of political posturing by those currently in government.
We cannot say what the ultimate reasons for their stance is however with the removal of the questions regarding onshore wind and solar from the DECC poll and the responses to the same questions in the Good Energy survey we know that is not because of lack of public support as our government tried to claim last month.