Nearly 80% of the British public support renewable energy, according to a major survey of attitudes commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Despite vocal opposition from many backbench MPs and sections of the press, just 5% of the 2100-plus households surveyed in the DECC study said they were opposed to renewable energy. Over half (55%) said they would be happy to have a large-scale renewable energy development in their area.
Feelings are more mixed over nuclear power, however, with almost equal proportions saying the benefits outweigh the risks (29%) and that the risks don’t justify the benefits.
But while there may be support for renewables development, the issue is not high on the agenda with only 3% saying that energy supply is the biggest challenge facing the UK today.
And even though only 3% don’t believe in climate change at all, just 2% reported it as a major challenge for the country.
Nevertheless, when questioned directly, over half of respondents said they were worried out rising energy prices and 40% expressed concern about the UK’s dependence on energy from other countries.
But when it comes to their own activities, while 82% of those surveyed said they give a lot or a fair amount of thought to saving energy they are not taking simple actions to curb usage.
Two-thirds of respondents said they boiled the kettle with more water than they need and over half say they leave the lights on when they’re not in a room.
More worryingly for the clean tech industry, nearly half of respondents said they had never heard of air source heat pumps and 41% were not familiar with ground source heat pumps.
Meanwhile, over half of those questioned had not heard of smart meters and only 6% actually have one. But those that do, 62% have in-house energy displays to which nearly half refer on a daily or occasional basis.
What the DECC survey reveals about our energy saving habits – or rather the lack of them – appears to be borne out by another study by the CII, the professional organisation of the insurance and financial services industries.
While just over half (51%) said they feel “under pressure” to be seen as green, they admit to exaggerating their efforts to recycle, turn down the heating, reuse plastic bags and use public transport or bikes instead of cars.
“Our research shows that whilst there is widespread knowledge of major future risks: climate change, longevity, overpopulation and a savings gap for retirement, consumers aren’t willing to sacrifice their lifestyles to enact future change,” says David Thomson, director of policy and public affairs at the CII.
Thomson says he things more guidance is needed from the government and larger organisations and companies on where impact can be greatest.
For further information:
Vattenfall and RWE Welsh wind farms to go before public inquiry (28-Jun)
UK Energy Secretary says future is “inconceivable” without wind (15-June)
Nine out of ten want to see Britain rely more heavily on renewables (23-Apr)
UK politicians out of step with public over wind farms (20-Apr)
10 July 2012