Friday, 29 April 2016

"The 81%" > the popularity of renewable energy in the UK

The economics of energy seems to be shifting:
Futures Forum: Question: What is the most expensive object on Earth? Answer: At $26bn plus some rather 'opaque financing arrangements', it could well be Hinkley C
Futures Forum: "Energy economics are changing rapidly and so the momentum is towards decentralised, smart and flexible energy systems."

Meanwhile, communities are getting on with their own energy projects:
Futures Forum: Community energy >>> "We are changing the world" >>> the fracking village that's going solar

And such projects are proving very popular, as reported by the New Economics Foundation:
New Economics Foundation

You might not guess it from the tone and substance of recent government policy, but its own research has yet again shown just how popular renewable energy is in the UK – and conversely how little support exists for fracking.  

Every three months the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) asks the public about their views on different energy types and how they use energy in their daily lives. The latest has just been released (summary; full breakdown). Its headlines:
  • 81% of the public support renewable energy, with over a third “strongly” supporting it. 
  • Only 19% support fracking.
  • Only just over a third (35%) think that nuclear energy will help tackle climate change.
  • Over half (56%) say that they’d be happy to have a renewable energy development near them, and 77% say that they would like renewable energy sites to provide economic benefits to local communities. 
Public support for energy

Clearly something as complex as energy policy should not be solely governed by public sentiment. But the public mandate for clean energy versus fossil fuels is staggering.
Support for zero-carbon energy has been unfailingly high each of the 17 times the survey has been run; over three-quarters of people have backed it each quarter since 2012.  

Not just popular, but increasingly lucrative: Danish energy company Dong revealed this week that growing profits from its offshore wind business – including in UK waters – have more than made up for its tumbling returns from oil and gas.

All of which of course prompts the question of who it is the government listens to on energy policy – proudly delivering both myriad cuts to support for renewable energy and cutting tax for oil and gas as part of its drive to drill ‘every drop’, both in the North Sea and from fracking.

In particular it exposes the folly of its war on onshore wind farms; the Prime Minister’s claims that the public are “fed up” with the technology looks simply silly, given that the DECC survey found that 69% of people support the technology, and only 5% oppose. 

Don't miss these:

  • This photo-essay on the massive new turbine that’s revolutionising the economics of onshore wind – featuring British-made blades as big as the wing of an Airbus A380.
  • 2015 was another record year for renewable energy investment , say the United Nations –an impressive $286 billion worldwide, over twice as much as was spent on coal and gas.
Renewable investment

In other news…

The Paris Agreement is signed – so what next?
The signing of the Agreement by 171 governments last week prompted a full page advert in the FT,  signed by a huge range of organisations (including NEF), calling for oil companies to start planning for a low-carbon world. Experts did however warn that the pledges currently on the table from signatories need “radical” improvement to keep temperatures to a two degree rise or less.

Heard the one about the government paying Shell to drill our oil?
UK taxpayers paid Shell a net $123 million in 2015 to drill North Sea oil and gas, thanks to a large tax rebate. That makes the UK the only one of the 24 countries where Shell reported that it took money from, rather than gave money back to, the taxpayer.

MPs slam government failure on air pollution
A very cross cross-party group of MPs slammed ministers for not doing enough to stop at least 40,000 people a year dying early from air pollution. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) called for a decent national action plan, a national diesel scrappage scheme and more powers to local authorities to bring in diesel charging schemes. Last year the Supreme Court also ordered the government to draw up an action plan to clean up the UK’s air: what they came up with, however, would still leave dozens of UK cities in breach of EU law for years to come. Damning evidence has also emerged of the systemic failure of car manufacturers to produce diesel vehicles that are as clean when driven in real life as they are in the laboratory.

And finally
Picking a fight with Emma Thompson is never wise – particularly if you’re the fracking industry and you’re trying to claim you’re a good thing for renewable energy.

Energy round-up: who do you trust? | New Economics Foundation
About NEF: Projects | New Economics Foundation

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