Overwhelming public support for renewables could shape Scottish elections

The next Scottish Government would be wise to spark investment into the renewables sector, as a new YouGov survey reveals overwhelming public support for the continued development of clean energy over fossil fuels and nuclear.

With the Scottish public heading to the polls on 5 May, a survey of more than 1,000 respondents were polled by Scottish Renewables. The results revealed that 70% want more renewable sources such as wind, solar, wave and tidal to be supplemented with a strong policy environment.

Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “The poll suggests that the people of Scotland continue to be strongly behind the growth of renewable energy, with support for the sector way ahead of any other. Just months after the Paris climate change agreement, the poll also shows clear support for Scotland’s next government to prioritise policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The poll revealed that fracking remained a contentious issue, with just under 20% backing the calls for increased shale gas exploration. Almost half of the respondents have called for an end to the subsidised building of fossil fuel infrastructure.

In regards to household energy generation, solar PV panels were the most popular choice at 39%, with wind turbines, biomass boilers and heat pumps all at 20% each. There are currently 660,000 operational solar PV panels in the country.

Vision for the future

Responding to the poll, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “When given the choice it’s clear that the public would rather see more renewables than fossil fuels or nuclear power. The message to politicians ahead of May’s elections is clear – continue to prioritise renewables and commit to ensuring Scotland becomes the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation by 2030.

“Independent research has shown that it is possible for Scotland to have a secure, efficient electricity system, based on almost entirely renewable electricity generation, by 2030. Not only is it possible, these new figures show it is by far the most popular public vision for the future.”

A 12-month surge of almost 12% saw Scotland generate 50% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2014 – a year ahead of scheduled targets. Last week, The Solar Trade Association (STA) released a new document of 20 ways the Scottish Government can catalyse significant growth in the deployment of solar energy across the country – with concepts ranging from storage systems to lower VAT brackets.

Matt Mace

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