Sunday, 9 August 2015

Europeans keep saying yes to renewables

The latest public attitude tracker released by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change showed that 75% of the population supports the use of renewables. Only 4% oppose them. The government survey did not contain specific questions about biomass, utility-scale solar farms, and all onshore wind farms — all of whose subsidies were recently slashed. So Good Energy hired its own pollsters.
They found that 4% of the British public are opposed to solar farms and 8% to onshore wind projects. This appears to be a pattern, from the continent whose population is most exposed to wind and solar power. Europeans keep saying “Yes” to renewables.


European Support For Renewables

According to a Eurobarometer, released last year:
  • 90% of Europeans think “climate change is a very serious or a serious problem.”
  • 90% of Europeans think “it is important for their government to set targets to increase the amount of renewable energy used by 2030.”
  • 80% of Europeans agree “fighting climate change benefits the EU economy and jobs.”
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Some of the most interesting statistics came from the nations leading Europe into the energy transition. 93% of the Danish respondents agreed it is important, or very important, that their government “sets targets to increase the amount of renewable energy used, such as wind or solar power, by 2030?” The numbers were 93% in Spain, 88% in the UK, and 87% in Germany. The percentages of respondents who thought this was “not very important” were, respectively, 6%, 4%, 10% and 11%.
These numbers are similar to those from a poll taken in Germany earlier this year. Only 11% of the respondents described Energiewende as “bad, or very bad;” 57% said it is “very good” or “good.”
Expressions of support tended to be more qualified. Though 92% of the respondents agreed with Energiewende in principle, almost 2/3 of those felt “major corrections” are needed. This primarily focused on the cost to consumers and 88% agreed with the statement “I am generally in favour of the principles behind the Energiewende, but the costs for private consumers are too high.” If similar questions had been asked on the Europe-wide survey, they probably would have encountered similar qualifications.


Overall, Europeans support the shift to a more renewable economy. As Will Vooght, head of innovation for Good Energy, said of his company’s poll, “These stats indicate that opposition to renewable remains consistently low, showing it’s a vocal minority dictating (UK) policy – flying in the face of public support.”
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This remains true as long as the energy transition is not too costly, in economic or personal terms. In the meantime, Sonia Dunlop, spokesperson for the Solar Trade Association, is correct in insisting, “the (UK) Government take solar’s popularity into account when making key policy decisions on support for this sunshine technology over the next few months.”
Governments of nations that have yet to make substantial investments in renewables should also pay attention. The world’s economy is shifting to a more renewable-based one. If these technologies are this popular in the nations leading this development, they merit closer attention.

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