Over 80% of public happy with solar in their local areas in ‘ringing endorsement’ of technology

Overall, 85% of those surveyed by BEIS in its attitudes tracker backed renewable energy in general.

Over 80% of the public would be happy to have a ground-mount solar in their local areas, further confirming the public’s positive view of the technology.

In a recent survey from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on attitudes towards renewables and energy generation, solar came out top in popularity.

Asked about their views on a solar farm being built in their local areas 81% of respondents said they would be very happy, fairly happy or would not mind. Meanwhile just 3% were significantly opposed, and 8% felt that a solar farm would not be feasible locally.

Those who described themselves as concerned about climate change were significantly more likely to back solar or wind in their area. Men were also found to be more likely to have a positive attitude towards renewables, with 58% backing solar farms as opposed to 51% of women.

Overall, 85% backed renewable energy in general, with under-35s and those with a university education showing the highest levels of support. Additionally, there weren’t many people opposed to renewables, with most of the rest holding no particular view.

Solar was endorsed by 87% of respondents overall, with more than half strongly supporting the technology specifically and a third supporting it less strongly, while just 1% saying that they opposed it.

“These results are another ringing endorsement of the UK’s fast-growing solar power sector,” said Chris Hewett, chief executive of trade association Solar Energy UK.

“Whether slashing home energy bills, powering warehouses or mounted on land managed for sheep and wildlife, it is no wonder solar power has won the backing of British people. These figures also show how out of touch some MPs are with the public on solar farms. There are no more popular and low-cost ways to generate power than solar and wind.”

Beyond ground-mount, the survey found that nearly 60% of owner-occupiers that don’t have roof-mounted solar on their homes are likely to consider installing it in the next few years, with just 6% saying they definitely would not do so.

The main attraction of installing solar panels on the roof was to cut electricity bills, with 85% of owner-occupiers pointing to the benefit. Beyond this, environmental reasons (81%) and being less dependent on the national grid (56%) were highlighted, while only 38% pointed to the benefits of selling excess power via the Smart Export Guarantee scheme.

Better financial support would be the most significant way to encourage installation the survey found, followed by better information on local planning rules, having a better understanding of solar power in general and working through a community initiative.

Solar was found to not only be the most popular form of renewable energy but stands in “stark contrast to views on other forms of electricity generation”, Solar Energy UK noted.

Only 37% of respondents supported nuclear power, and 17% supported fracking for shale gas. Nuclear fusion was supported by around half of those surveyed, but the technology remains nascent and is yet to have a viable commercial proposition.

The survey follows research from Copper Consultancy and Solar Energy UK in January that found that 56% of respondents support the development of large-scale solar projects in their local area.

It stands in contrast to some vocal opposition to ground-mount solar farms in recent months, including concerns over land use for solar as opposed to food production being raised in a recent Select Committee meeting.

Solar now accounts for 4% of the UK’s total electricity consumption, and hits a peak of 20% or more of the UK’s power around midday in summer. The rollout of the technology in the UK is continuing to pick up steam, with UK’s pipeline reaching a staggering 37GW.

Yesterday (7 July), 2.2GW of solar projects secured support through the Contracts for Difference scheme, a record amount that will see 66 sites benefit from revenue security.

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