Guest blog from David Thorpe at Energy & Environmental Management. See the original article here.
33% of people would consider personally investing in small-scale community renewable energy projects like wind farms, solar farms or small-scale biomass plants, according to a poll by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on UK energy policy.
Over half (51%) believe that the government should support the construction of more renewable energy sources, and a quarter would invest in energy bonds, to support and invest in renewable energy and nuclear projects elsewhere in the UK.
The news comes as the government is running a consultation on its Community Energy Strategy.
There are a growing number of community energy projects across the country, from community-run advice services to hydro power turbines in local streams powering hundreds of homes.
To reconnect more communities to the energy they use, the government is looking for views from a range of people and groups to help ensure the new Community Energy Strategy can inspire as many new projects as possible.
Energy and climate change minister, Greg Barker, said: “I would encourage everyone with an interest in this area, from community organisations and local councils to project financiers and energy suppliers to send us their views so we can help make decentralised community energy a reality for many more people.”
Almost two thirds (64%) of respondents to the IME poll said they are concerned about possible blackouts, and 93% about higher electricity and gas bills.
Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME), said the results show “a severe lack of public confidence in the government’s confused energy policy. There are clear concerns that there is an insufficient amount of investment in new energy infrastructure and that the UK faces a future of high energy prices for consumers and possible blackouts.
“Confidence in government energy policy has been damaged by its mixed messages on low-carbon energy policy,” he added.
The respondents were quizzed on what types of technology they would favour to secure future energy supplies. Renewable energy sources like solar, wave and tidal power were the most popular, with 51% of people saying the government should provide more support for these projects.
43% said there should be more support for offshore wind farms, 31% for onshore wind farms; while as few as 8% supported more gas-fired power stations.
One quarter (25%) of respondents said they would consider investing in energy bonds where money would be used to build large energy infrastructure projects like nuclear power stations or large offshore wind farms.
An issue of such bonds has been launched by an Australian-owned firm, Energy Bonds plc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBD Energy Ltd, an Australian Stock Exchange listed company and global renewable energy business.
EnergyBonds will help fund these projects and bring new renewable energy generation to a wider audience in the UK and overseas.
The notion of government-issued energy bonds was rejected by the Treasury in 2009, when the financing structure of the Green Investment Bank was being designed, as it did not itself want to underwrite such bonds.
The poll follows the publication of another IME poll on 28 May which found that 43% of the public would support the construction of new nuclear power in the UK, compared with just 28% who said they would not.
DECC runs a Community Energy Contact Group (CECG), an informal advisory body in which community energy experts share views with DECC and help design and deliver policy with communities in mind.
The poll of 2,034 people was carried out by ICM on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on 3-6 May.
David Thorpe – News Editor at Energy & Environmental Management