The results from the most recent UK Government survey on attitudes to climate and energy were released this week including those regarding renewable energy with public support continuing to grow year on year.
49% of those that responded stated they were in favour of renewable energy with 30% strongly in favour giving a total of 79% positive, an increase of 5% from the previous year. Opposition to renewable energy remained low with only 3% stating they opposed it and 1% that strongly opposed it.
Overall the poll, which questioned 2000 people, showed similar results to the previous poll with nuclear showing a stable support level of 34% with only 22% opposed while opposition to shale gas extraction or fracking at 32% compared to 16% in favour.
The survey also showed 24% of those who took part have given serious thought to home energy saving solutions while 50% stated they had given it some thought. Renewable Heat did not fare better as despite 65% of those asked said they were aware of renewable heat technologies only 3% had this type of system installed in their home.
In addition only a small amount of those that took part in the survey (7% solar thermal panels, 2% a biomass boiler, 2% an air source heat pump and 1% a ground source heat pump) said they would be likely to install some sort of renewable heat system in their home in the future with concerns over cost and installation difficulties being the main reasons cited.
As the UK general public continue to support renewable energy new figures released by the UK government show Scotland’s renewable energy industry turning over £5.5billion in 2016. In addition job places rose by 300% over the same year.
This was mainly down to significant growth in both the onshore and offshore sectors as well as renewable heat with wind employment rising 300% to 200 places and renewable heat employment increasing from 500 places in 2015 to 2,500 in 2016.
It wasn’t all good news though with solar power employment falling 75% from 2,000 to 500 over the same period.
Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive at Scottish Renewables, said: “These new figures clearly show the benefits renewable energy is bringing to Scotland.
“Companies that are developing projects here, as well as supply chain businesses supporting the wider industry, are employing people in skilled jobs and delivering investment from the Borders to Shetland.
“The rise in employment in the offshore wind and renewable heat sectors illustrates the huge boost to jobs and investment that is possible when technologies are given the right backing by Government. For these benefits to continue and grow, the whole industry needs to see that level of political commitment sustained across the board.
“The decline in employment in the solar industry shows clearly the impact of cuts to UK Government support for the sector. We would expect that future editions of this ONS survey will show declines in other areas caused by similar decisions made at Westminster.”
With renewable energy remaining both popular with and beneficial to the UK population we believe now is great time for the government to revisit its policies and once again place an emphasis on new renewable energy projects.
The resources are still relatively untouched and the infrastructure is now at much more advanced stage than it was a few years ago when the industry boom first kicked in. In addition the technologies are now much less expensive meaning that government involvement would not have to be at the level it was five or six years ago.
However without government support investment in the industry will continue to fall which we believe would be a missed opportunity and something we will come to regret in the future.