Britons’ resistance to renewable energy continues to weaken even among the old, the government’s long-term tracking study of public attitudes indicates.
A combined 87% of Brits either support or ‘strongly’ support renewables in general, the autumn 2021 edition of D-BEIS’s Public Attitudes Tracker finds. It draws on the energy infrastructure views of 5,500 respondents, surveyed repeatedly every six months.
Only 1% of Brits oppose or strongly oppose renewable energy, the survey found. Adjusted for rounding, a further 12% had ‘no opinion’.
At 58%, men are more likely to voice the ‘strongest’ support – the highest of five levels of enthusiasm – , compared to 50% of women. That level declines with age; 62% of 16 to 24 year olds are renewables’ most fervent supporters, compared to only half of the over 50s.
Educational attainment links strongly to enthusiasm for green energy. At 93%, support for renewables is highest among graduates, compared with 86% among people with other qualifications, and 78% of people with none.
By technology of generation and their development, solar PV on 90% approval, and tidal energy on 84% are Brits’ top picks. Onshore and offshore wind are bracketed close together, at 80% and 84% respectively.
From the survey, Brits claim to be broadly aware of most RE technologies: at 7%, the ‘don’t knows’ are highest only in relation to biomass.
The survey probed awareness also of small nuclear reactors, plus awareness and enthusiasm for fusion energy and fracking.
Small nukes are known at least slightly to 46% of respondents, though only 7% claimed to know ‘a fair amount’. Among men, 57% had heard of SMRs against 35% of women.
Nuclear fusion is known to 62% of all respondents as a possible low carbon source, though 22% say they know only a little. Across the board, 39% said they supported further investigation of the technology, with 4% opposed.
87% of Brits have heard of fracking, but its support is lukewarm. Only 17% of Brits support shale gas extraction, including 4% strongly. In contrast, 45% oppose fracking, including 22% strongly. 56% of graduates oppose the technology, as do 31% of people without qualifications.