Tuesday, 29 April 2014

DECC survey reveals massive support for onshore wind compared to nuclear and fracking


The so-called 'wave 9' survey of public attitudes to energy technologies published today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows just how out of step with the public the Conservatives have become in their policies. As detailed below, the Government's survey shows that the public is much more supportive of onshore wind - the technology they are determined to curb - compared to the technologies to which they want to give incentives, namely nuclear power and shale gas. The Conservatives want to stop premium price contracts being given to onshore wind and are busy stopping local authorities giving windfarm proposals  planning permission.  Yet onshore wind is, under Electricity Market Reform (EMR), until 2020, being given much lower incentives compared to nuclear power. So it is not as if the country cannot afford windfarms compared to nuclear power in particular, and shale gas cannot be a cheaper way of reducing carbon emissions!

When it gets going (they say in 2023) Hinkley C nuclear power station will be paid £92.50 for each MWh of electricity production for 35 years, and receive massive loan guarantees to boot, while onshore wind will, under EMR,  receive its £90 per MWh worth incentives for only 15 years and get no loan guarantees - and after 2020 according to the Conservatives onshore wind will get no premium rates at all. On top of all of this, the planning system will be reformed to be biased against wind power compared to nuclear power and shale gas!

Given that onshore wind power is much cheaper than nuclear power, and evidently by the Government's own reports it is much more popular, why on earth is the Government, after 2020, going to give massive quantities of incentives to nuclear power, various tax breaks to shale gas and at the same time cut off the much smaller incentives that are being given to onshore wind?

The answer of course is that the Conservatives think only of competing for votes with UKIP. Little else seems to matter. UKIP are promoting a virulent anti-renewables campaign, although this seems to connect up much more with a few of their own activists than with the public at large. The Conservatives, who so assiduously courted the centre ground at the 2010 election, are now abandoning the centre. Does this look like a Party that is heading for a majority government? I think not.

The DECC survey suggests the following results in public support or opposition to these different technologies, all in per cent (don't knows excluded):

                                 Support   Oppose

Onshore wind                 70       12
Offshore wind                77        7
solar power                    85         5
nuclear power                42        20
shale gas                        29        22

You can see the full results at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-attitudes-tracking-survey-wave-9

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