Two-thirds (64%) of respondents think the UK government’s plans to introduce a feed-in tariff are not sufficiently ambitious, and 71% say they would consider installing green energy systems if they were paid enough. The study of 2100 adults was commissioned by Friends of the Earth, the Renewable Energy Association and the Co-operative Group.
When told that government research shows Britain could generate one-third of its electricity from local renewable energy systems, 70% said they would be prepared to pay an extra 10 pence on their electricity bills each month (£1.20 annually) on top of the already-proposed increase of £1.17 until 2013 (when the scheme is due to be reviewed) to enable the government to introduce a more ambitious scheme from the outset.
Under this scenario, the UK could deliver three times more local green electricity in 2020 than is currently planned.
When told that government expects 80% of natural gas to come from overseas by 2020, 88% of respondents agreed (51% agreed strongly) that the UK should spend more money to develop renewable energies that would make the country less dependent on imported energy.
When told that Britain produces the least renewable energy out of the 27 countries in the EU (except for Malta), 82% said the UK’s record on renewable energy was unacceptable.
Of all respondents, 79% agreed (39% strongly agreed) that government should invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to boost an economic recovery, create thousands of jobs, reduce reliance on overseas fossil fuels and tackle climate change, even if this spending were at the expense of other plans.
Politicians must act
“The public overwhelmingly wants the government to think big when it comes to small-scale renewable energy,” says Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth. “Our homes, businesses and communities could become green power stations, but bigger government incentives are needed to make this a reality.”
“Ministers must listen and introduce an ambitious feed-in tariff scheme that will encourage millions of households, companies and communities across the UK to join the green energy revolution; this will help tackle climate change, create new jobs and businesses and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” he adds.
Friends of the Earth, the Renewable Energy Association and the Co-operative Group want small-scale renewable energy to provide 2% of UK electricity (5 MW) by 2020.
“The public have given an incredible show of support for renewable energy, even in the deepest recession for a generation,” says Leonie Greene of REA. “The involvement of everyday people and businesses can transform the UK's renewable energy industry and bring down technology costs, as is the case in other European countries.”
Renewable energy feed-in tariff
The government is expected to publish details of its proposed renewable energy feed-in tariff within days, to encourage homeowners, companies and communities to install small-scale systems that use solar or wind, by paying a premium rate for all the green power they generate.
The government agreed to introduce a feed-in tariff (“Clean Energy Cashback”) in 2008 following a campaign by Friends of the Earth and the Renewable Energy Association; the scheme will start in April and final details are expected to be finalised within days.