Investing in renewables ‘top priority’ for improving energy security

New polling data reveals that almost half of UK voters see investing in renewables as a priority over any other form of energy when it comes to ensuring the nation's energy security.

Figures released last week by RenewableUK found that 48% of voters see investing in renewables as their number one priority for maintaining energy security – far ahead of the next most popular choice, building new nuclear reactors, which came in at 15%.

The data, collected by ComRes, analyses the results of a nationwide survey of 2,000 people, which focused on an array of political issues. The results suggest that people see Britain’s energy security as one of the most important Government concerns, with 53% citing it as a top-five priority.

Prioritising renewables increased to 50% for voters living in the 40 most marginal Labour/Conservative constituencies.

Fracking was seen as a fairly unpopular choice as just 13% of respondents stated that it should be a top priority, with this number falling to 8% in marginal seats.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “This poll shows that the public want to tackle our energy security crisis by investing in renewables like wind, wave and tidal power and offsetting the need to import volatile and dirty fossil fuels from insecure parts of the world.”

The poll comes soon after ComRes discovered that 30% of Britons felt they would be less likely to vote for a party that proposed to halt the deployment of further onshore wind schemes.

“Onshore wind, as the cheapest low carbon electricity source is a crucial component of that so it’s no wonder that the electorate will reject parties that rule out its future use,” added McCaffery.

Contracts for Difference

The findings come as the Government published the draft budget for the Contracts for Difference scheme; setting out funding that will be available for new renewable power projects across the UK.

The Government draft bill allocated £155m for ‘less established technologies’ including offshore wind, wave and anaerobic digestion and £55m for ‘established’ technologies’ such as onshore wind, solar and energy from waste.

But this led to concern from some energy groups about the UK’s short-term energy security. The Renewable Energy Association’s chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “With many people struggling with their energy bills, cost-effectiveness is every bit as important and DECC cannot say that this planned budget delivers value for money for the consumer.

“The best way to square the circle is by properly funding the cheaper technologies and introducing minima for all technologies. This will ensure continued investment, innovation and job creation across all sectors, whilst also bringing forward cheaper clean power in the short term to address the looming capacity crunch.”

At present, onshore wind represents the largest share of renewable energy generation with 45%, while the UK’s independent solar capacity has grown by more than 150% over the past year.

Matt Field

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