Consumers support expansion of renewables

Consumers believe energy companies should invest their profits in renewable energy, according to new research.

Carried out by statutory consumer champion, Consumer Focus, the study found that expansion of renewables was supported by the majority of consumers responding.

However, a small number were hostile towards wind power because of either performance concerns or aesthetics, while solar and hydro power received a higher level of support.

It also found that several people had used energy efficiency measures and had a favourable view of free loft insulation and cavity wall insulation programmes.

However, security of supply was the greatest worry, particularly the high and growing dependence on imported gas.

"The fact that the UK was soon to be 80% dependent on imports was remembered and quoted by some participants," said Consumer Focus.

The general consensus of consumers echos remarks by the Chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, Tim Yeo, who yesterday outlined the importance of investing in the low-carbon energy technologies of the future.

Yeo called on the Government to show greater leadership in establishing a world beating low-carbon energy market in the UK.

He also warned of the advances being made in China, Japan and Germany and how the UK could fall behind in renewable energy technology, with Germany already getting 25% of its electricity from renewables.

He said: "Exciting new energy technologies could bring equally radical changes to the way we power our homes and businesses. But instead of being out in front again, leading the green industrial revolution, Britain risks being left behind.

"Our competitors...China, Japan, Germany and the US are pushing ahead on clean new technologies. Only last month, the UK fell from fifth to sixth place in the renewable energy attractiveness rankings globally," he added.

Yeo made it clear that the UK needs to embrace the technology of the future, set a target to reduce present heavy dependence on fossil fuels and upgrade the electricity system.

"Or we can cling to the combustion-based technologies of the past, gamble the future on assumptions about the availability of abundant cheap gas and slow down the process of decarbonising our economy. Britain must look forward or risk getting left behind" he warned.

Yeo's comments come after the Government lifted a ban on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas last week.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey said: "Shale gas represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK. It could contribute significantly to our energy security, reducing our reliance on imported gas, as we move to a low carbon economy".

Leigh Stringer


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