UK: Solar again tops popularity charts in latest poll


More than once will David Cameron and fellow prominent members of the Conservative Party cabinet have sought to remind the electorate that they listen to the concerns of the people, yet once again it seems that deaf ears are the default setting when it comes to solar energy.

A recent poll, conducted by the government’s very own Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) found today that the public opinion is firmly in favor of solar energy, despite recent decisions by the government to vastly withdraw subsidy support for the technology.

In August a proposal was set forth by DECC to slash the feed-in tariff (FIT) for small residential solar systems by 87%, with further reductions for larger rooftop installations and changes to the FIT pre-accreditation process.

Community solar projects have also had their tax relief rescinded in what has amounted to a full-on assault on the sector – an assault that the Solar Trade Association (STA) believes will lead to the loss of around 27,000 jobs.

However, today’s poll shows that solar is the U.K. public’s preferred source of energy at 80% approval, more than any other type of conventional or renewable energy source.

The poll used to be asked every three months but DECC recently made the controversial decision to run the survey every six months instead, perhaps mindful that the responses were growing increasingly at odds with government policy.

"These very high levels of public support for solar show yet again that this sunshine technology is the nation’s favorite source of energy," said STA head of external affairs Leonie Greene. "This is also shown by the more than 55,000 responses to the FIT public consultation received by DECC – an unprecedented number showing the widespread outrage at these extreme cuts."

The results of the DECC poll follow another ComRes survey last week for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) that revealed that the U.K. public are largely supportive of renewable subsidies, with 73% backing support for solar and 66% backing support for wind.

"No other technology empowers consumers and communities to take charge of their energy bill and act on climate change like solar power," added Greene. "By cutting support for solar the government is taking power away from people, organizations and communities all over the U.K. – and they don’t like it one bit."

The DECC poll found that support for shale gas stands at just 23%, and nuclear is at 36% – two technologies recently championed by the government.

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