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British Public Want More Renewable Energy, Benefiting Communities

A new UK Public Attitudes Tracking Survey has found that support for renewable energy continues to remain high, with 81% expressing their support.

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been conducting its Public Attitudes Tracker Survey since March 2012, with one annual survey conducted every March, and three smaller surveys conducted in June, September, and December. Published this week, the DECC released the results of its March 2016 (wave 17) survey, which included some interesting opinions for the country’s renewable energy industry.

“Support for renewable energy has been consistently high during the tracker at around 75-80%,” the DECC noted in its key findings report, which was re-emphasized in wave 17, with 81% of respondents expressing support for renewable energy. On the other side of the coin, only 4% of respondents opposed renewables, with only 2% “strongly opposing.”

Wave 17 re-introduced a new series of questions which yielded fascinating answers.

70% of respondents believe that “Renewable energy industries and developments provide economic benefits to the UK,” a percentage which has remained approximately the same for each March survey conducted since 2012. Unsurprisingly, only 56% of respondents “would be happy to have a large scale renewable energy development” in their area, which has similarly remained about the same since 2012. Interestingly, 77% of all respondents believe that “Renewable energy developments should provide direct benefit to the communities in which they are located.”

“It’s great that the British public sees how renewable energy is helping to grow the UK economy,” said Hugh McNeal, RenewableUK’s Chief Executive. “Renewables are delivering investment and jobs throughout our country.”

Support for individual renewable energy technologies also remained high. Total support for solar sat at 84%; Wave and Tidal at 77%; Offshore wind 76%; 63% for biomass; and 69% for onshore wind.

Reading into these figures, when combining only 56% of respondents wanting renewable energy in their own areas, support for residential solar with its relatively minor visual intrusiveness, and offshore wind’s “out of sight, out of mind” benefits, remain the obvious winners.

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