BBC survey highlights UK public support for wind and solar

70% of public want British energy system to be nationalised as confidence in suppliers collapses

(Pic: Steve p2008/Flickr)


The British public broadly supports investment in wind and solar energy systems, according to a survey commissioned by the BBC and published today.

Of 1035 adults interviewed, 84% were keen on more solar panels where they lived, 67% wanted more windfarms while 47% thought building more nuclear power stations was a good idea.

Support for shale gas exploration, or fracking, was significantly lower, coming in at 33%, a figure that rose to 47% if incentives to local communities were added. Those who claimed to know “a fair amount” about fracking were also more likely to support it than those who do not.

The survey is the latest to suggest there is significant backing for renewable energy in the UK. Last month YouGov reported nearly seven times more people would rather have a solar farm located near their homes than a fracking site.

BBC Radio 5 live commissioned ComRes to carry out a survey to understand attitudes to energy as part of the station’s Energy Day, which will be presented from a studio powered by renewable sources from 630am-7pm.

The UK government, energy companies and civil society are currently involved in a fierce debate over the future of the country’s energy system.

To meet its legally binding climate change targets the country has to cut its greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, but it is currently unclear whether this will lead to more investment in wind, solar, marine, nuclear or gas.

Renewable sources provided 10.8% of the electricity generated in the UK in 2012, with wind generation rising 26% in the same year.

Generation gap

The BBC survey also highlights an intriguing difference in attitudes between age groups.

Those interviewed aged above 65 were the least likely to support renewable energy sources. Just over half (54%) of this sample supported the idea of more windfarms in their area compared to 82% of those aged 25-34.

55% say they would be willing to pay more for greener energy, while 61% believe the current UK government ‘is not green enough when it comes to energy policy’.

And in a sign of the lack of trust many consumers have in the UK’s major energy companies, 70% say they would like the industry to be re-nationalised, a sentiment Dale Vince, founder of Britain’s first green energy company Ecotricity told RTCC is understandable.

“The private sector bought Britain’s energy industry on the cheap after it had been built with public money, and for a couple of decades it’s worked OK – but now that most of the infrastructure needs rebuilding, the inability of private enterprise to economically deliver something of such fundamental importance – is becoming exposed.”

Vince added: “The fact 67% of people support having more wind farms in their area is not a surprise at all – every public survey for the past two decades has come back with the same result.”

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