renewable-energyWhile UK energy prices remain high, new research from Mintel finds public support for renewable energy is encouragingly strong as just over three-quarters (77%) of UK consumers believe that the UK should generate more electricity from renewable sources and 73% believe the government should give more support to the renewable energy sector. Today, some 76% of Brits believe that renewable energy plays an important role in protecting the environment.

Highlighting the popularity of solar energy, almost eight in ten (78%) Brits are in favour of solar panels being installed on all new houses (where suited) and 74% believe that solar panels should be installed on more roofs. Overall, some 40% of all Brits believe it is worth paying a little more for greener energy.

But while support for renewable energy remains strong, almost a third (30%) of Brits admit they don’t care which source their electricity comes from and 45% say the UK should get its energy supply from the cheapest source possible, even if it means it is not renewable sources.

Claudia Preedy, Senior Industrial Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Despite general support for renewable energy, the price of electricity is still a key factor for many Brits, reflecting continued high energy bills while household budgets remain squeezed. Almost half of people agree that the UK should get its energy supply from the cheapest possible source, even if it is not from renewables. The vast majority are also in favour of solar panels being installed on all new houses suggesting that a drive by the government to make roof-top solar panels on new housing mandatory would be met with little resistance by the public, although this depends on how it would affect house prices.”

Solar farms are preferred energy plant near people’s homes

Solar farms (28%) were considered the most acceptable type of energy plant near to where people live

Mintel’s research also reveals which type of energy plant consumers would find most acceptable to have close to their home. Solar farms (28%) were considered the most acceptable type of energy plant near to where people live, this was followed by hydro power plant (26%) and wind farm (23%). At the other end of the scale, 51% of consumers identified nuclear power as the least desirable plant to have nearby, followed by coalfired power station (21%). Just 7% of Brits said that a bioenergy plant was an acceptable type of plant to live near.

“Generally solar farms are less associated with negative connotations, such as air and environmental pollution, noise or potential health hazards and danger. Bioenergy is the only type of renewable plant without a high acceptability rating, slightly lower than nuclear plants, which 8% of people identified as the most acceptable plant nearby. The low acceptability rating of bioenergy is believed to be partly due to concerns relating to biomass plants, such as air pollution and health risks to residents.” Claudia continues.

Overall, there is strong support for solar farms, with 60% of people welcoming the development of solar farms. Meanwhile, 61% support the development of onshore wind farms.

“The majority of consumers support the development of onshore wind farms, however, the Conservative party has announced plans to stop subsidising new onshore wind farms if it wins the general election in 2015, though both Labour and the Liberal-Democrats remain in favour of on-shore wind farm developments. The deployment of renewable energy will continue to be strongly influenced by government policy, in particular with respect to subsidies, which have been the stimulus for the market development.” Claudia continues.

Renewable energy market set to continue to grow

Mintel also forecasts renewable energy generation to show strong growth over the next five years. With the government remaining committed to delivering 15% of the UK’s energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, Mintel estimates that renewable energy generation will rise from 53.7 TWh in 2013 to 106.0 TWh in 2018, an increase of 97%.

“Although the deployment of renewable energy is set for sustained growth over the coming years, there are uncertainties regarding the future technology mix, which is exacerbated by potential policy changes following the general election in May. Nonetheless, the strongest growth potential for renewable energy deployment is expected to be in the offshore wind and solar power sectors.” Claudia concludes.

Press review copies of the report and interviews with the Senior Industrial Analyst, Claudia Preedy, are available on request from the press office.

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