Public confidence rising that the UK can ‘keep the lights on’
The number of people identifying energy supply as one of the top three issues facing Britain has fallen by a third since March 2014, to 21%.
The figures come from an annual Decc survey of 1,981 UK adults, known as the Public Attitudes Tracker.
Decc did not identify the reason behind this increasing confidence, but domestic renewable energy provided almost one fifth of the UK’s electricity in 2014 – a new record – while the UK’s energy consumption has also fallen by 5% since 2013.
In the same vein, the number of respondents expressing concern about sharp energy-price rises fell 6% year-on-year, although it remained relatively high at 79%.
People are also less concerned about the UK becoming too dependent on energy from other countries (72% down from 80%).
Support for renewable energy held firm at 78% – very similar to the last two years. 71% of people strongly or slightly agreed that renewables provided economic benefits to the UK, while just 6% disagreed.
Figures released earlier today by the REA appeared to back these figures up, with the onshore wind sector alone adding £900m to the economy, with 30% of this directly benefiting local areas.
The widespread public support for the sector appears to be at odds with the election promises of the Conservatives – the party most likely to form a government in May. The Tory manifesto pledges to remove new subsidy support for onshore wind.
Support for nuclear stands at 39%, while 24% of the public support fracking. Respondents demonstrated either an absence of knowledge or an indifference towards fracking in particular, with almost half neither supporting nor opposing.
Just 38% of people were familiar with carbon capture and storage (CCS), although 52% of those that were, supported it. All three major parties have backed the technology as an important way of decarbonising heavy industry.
The proportion of respondents who own smart meters has trebled since March 2012, and now stands at 18%.
However this percentage indicates a long way to go to reach the Government’s target of installing smart meters in 53m homes and small business by 2020. MPs recently warned that the £11bn plan was running out of time, and in danger of becoming a ‘costly failure‘.