UK: Government survey shows strong public support for solar

A survey conducted by the UK Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed strong support for renewables, and in particular for solar, among the British public.

This show of support, along with the rapidly falling prices for various renewable energy technologies, led the Renewable Energy Agency (REA) to call for better policies from the government to foster further growth in renewables.

The survey, entitled Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT), has been held since 2012 to monitor public opinion on a range of energy and climate change issues. The main survey is conducted each year in March, with follow ups covering key issues 3 more times a year.

The 23rd iteration of PAT was conducted using face to face interviews conducted between 27th September and 1st October, with a representative sample of 2,105 UK households, chosen through a random sampling method.

Findings from the survey indicate that 82% of respondents support the use of renewable energy. This represented an increase from 77% in the previous survey, and 79% one year earlier. Solar came out on top, with 84% of respondents supporting the technology, while 79% offered support for offshore wind, wave and tidal, 74% for onshore wind and 69% supported biomass.

3% of respondents indicated opposition to renewable energy, and 1% voiced strong opposition.

These results were in stark contrast to the findings for conventional generation, with 33% of respondents stating that they supported nuclear power, and just 13% offered support for fracking.

Commenting on the results, James Court Head of Policy and External Affairs at REA said: “Following an extraordinary year for the industry, it is not surprising that public support for renewables has risen and is the most popular form of generation. We now need the government to see what the public have seen and take the brake off this sector. Cheap forms of power such as onshore wind, solar and biomass remain blocked, whilst nuclear, diesel and gas are still receiving government support.”

PAT also demonstrated increasing knowledge of smart meters among the British public, although the awareness was much higher among respondents with higher incomes. Full results of the survey can be viewed here.

While offshore wind was a big winner in the UK’s recent clean energy package, solar, onshore wind and other technologies remain blocked from competition and receiving no government support.