British investors more supportive of renewables than new Government, survey finds

Of those polled, 65% believe that investors and policymakers should do more to support solar energy expansion in the UK.

Those were some of the key findings from a new survey conducted by Triodos Bank UK and Thrive Renewables. The survey was conducted earlier this year among 1,000 retail investors, with the results published today (14 September).

The vast majority of the investors polled (81%) said they are concerned about the energy crisis and believe it will have a long-term impact on the UK’s economy. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has stated that natural gas is likely to remain at least three times the average pre-February-2022 price until 2027. At the moment, Government interventions will only run through to October 2024 at the latest.

Almost six in ten of the investors polled (57%) said they wish to use their own investment actions to help ease the price crisis. Investing in renewable energy was found to be a popular way of doing so, with the same proportion of investors stating that they have recently increased investment here or are planning to do in the near future.

The poll revealed that most investors support a broader range of renewables than the Conservative Government, which has time and again promoted offshore wind over other generation methods, using the argument that arrays can be larger. Offshore wind is the only renewable energy sector with a sector deal in the UK and the recent Energy Security Strategy saw the Government increasing targets for offshore wind, but not solar, onshore wind, tidal or marine.

Of those polled, 65% believe that investors and policymakers should do more to support solar energy expansion in the UK. The proportion stood at 62% for offshore wind. The survey found that investors classed as “seasoned”, with ten years of experience or more, were generally more supportive of onshore wind and solar.

These findings indicate that investors in energy and the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, are probably in disagreement about renewable energies. Truss, on her campaign trail, called solar farms “paraphernalia” and pledged to restrict their development further. She argued that land should go to crop production and livestock rather than energy generation. These comments have already been criticised and countered by solar industry trade bodies and by some farmers with on-site renewables.

Thrive Renewables’ managing director Matthew Clayton said: “In the midst of climate breakdown and an energy crisis, it has never been more important for the UK to invest in the renewable electricity generation needed to transition away from fossil fuels and deliver on this country’s net-zero carbon goals. It’s clear that investors and the UK public support this and are taking matters into their own hands to invest in positive, long-term solutions such as solar and wind energy.”

The UK currently relies on gas for around 40% of its electricity generation. Some 85% of homes have a gas boiler and the UK is regarded as having some of the least energy-efficient homes in Europe. All of this is a recipe for reliance on gas, which is the primary cause of the price crisis. Truss is being encouraged to build on her energy price freeze with energy efficiency measures and more information on transitioning away from gas heating and power plants once Parliament resumes following the Queen’s funeral next week.

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