The poll from the country’s most respected market research agency revealed particularly strong support for wind, wave and tidal power. For example when those sampled were asked which technologies they most supported for meeting Britain’s energy needs 18% of those asked backed wind power and a further 18% backed wave and tidal power. In comparison only 5% felt that further gas generation was the best solution and a meagre 2% backed an expansion of coal power generation. This is despite strong claims from some sections of the UK Government that a boom in unconventional gas could act as an economic stimulus for the country over the next decade.
Government support levels for renewable technologies have also been a contentious issue for some aspects of the British press with some outlets claiming that there is mass public opposition to schemes such as the Renewables Obligations and the Feed-in-Tariffs. However this YouGov poll reveals that 66% of those surveyed feel the government is entirely correct to subsidise renewable developments. Additionally 56% of people polled are strongly in favour of continued financial support for wind. These figures would seem to suggest that it is vested interests rather than the public who are unhappy with the expansion of renewable energy developments in the UK. Some press outlets have also maintained that people are particularly opposed to these developments happening in their own local area. Again these claims are not backed up the polling figures: 64% of people would be in favour of a large scale onshore wind development in their area, 72% would support a large scale offshore wind development and 71% would be in favour of large scale development of wave and tidal resources. In comparison only between 4-13% of people would oppose such developments.
The publication of the poll was received enthusiastically by Jennifer Webber, Director of External Affairs for RenewableUK:
“Each time one of these national polls is published we see the same message – resounding support for wind, wave and tidal, continued acceptance of financial support for them and understanding of the benefits. Government needs to focus all its efforts on realising the low carbon future people are calling out for – 78% of people polled chose a low-carbon source of energy as their choice for the future. To achieve the investment needed to secure people’s overwhelming request for a low carbon future, we need to see a signal from Government beyond 2020. The 2030 target would be a great way to achieve this.
Additionally, this week, a document published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) revealed that the UK now has the third highest wind energy capacity on the continent. This is an improvement on 2011 when the UK was fifth behind France, Italy, Germany and Spain. 2012 has seen the UK leapfrog France and Italy now behind only the long established German and Spanish industries. In total the UK now has 8.4GW of installed wind capacity.
Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK commented:
“The UK’s strong performance in the European league table reflects the growing importance of the British wind industry as a leading player. This proves the increasing significance of wind energy to the UK’s economy despite tough global economic conditions.
“The Government is calling for the UK to quadruple the amount of wind installed between now and 2020. The industry can achieve 31 gigawatts onshore and offshore by the end of the decade, but only with clear-cross party political support.
“We can attract billions of pounds worth of investment to the UK and create tens of thousands of jobs, but only if the signals from Westminster are right. The proof of this will be in the Energy Bill, which is due to become law by the end of the year. So the decisions taken by Government over the next few months are absolutely crucial for the UK’s wind industry.”
69% of all new European energy capacity came from renewable technologies underlining the consensus that exists in Europe about both the importance and potential of renewable energy.