Sunday, August 31, 2014

Politicians Ignore People’s Power Pleas

Field of dreams: a community-owned solar farm near Oxford, UK (Credit: Neil Maw/Westmill Solar Co-operative via Wikimedia Commons) Click to enlarge.
Consumers worldwide increasingly want renewable energy sources to provide their electricity, yet many governments are ignoring them by continuing to exploit fossil fuels.

Public support for renewable energies across the world continues to grow, particularly in more advanced economies - with solar power being especially popular.

At the same time, the policies of the governments in most of these richer countries do not mirror public opinion as many continue to develop fossil fuels, which do not command such popular support.

An example is the UK, where the government wants to exploit gas reserves by the controversial method of fracking – fracturing rock to allow the gas to reach the ground surface.  The Conservative government is also promising to cut down on subsidies for onshore wind farms and to build nuclear power stations.

According to the public attitudes report published this month by the British government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, 36% of the population supports the plan to build new nuclear stations, and only 24% support shale gas extraction by fracking.

In contrast, 79% of the public is in favor of renewable energies to provide electricity.  The UK has plentiful renewable energy and is exploiting several different types.  Solar panels are the most popular form, with 82% of the public supporting their widespread use on the roofs of private houses and, more recently, solar farms in fields in the countryside.

Other high scores for renewables were offshore wind (72% in favor), onshore wind (67%), wave and tidal (73%), and biomass (60%) - even though all need public subsidy to compete with fossil fuels.

Despite the government’s public support for nuclear, there has been no start on a new station because a subsidy offered by the government is being investigated as potentially illegal under European Union competition legislation.  Fracking is still at the exploratory stage and requires years of investment before any power could be produced.

Meanwhile, renewables keep on growing.  In the first three months of this year, they produced nearly one-fifth of the UK’s electricity.  Renewable energy generation was 43% higher than a year previously, showing the massive growth in the industry.

Both onshore and offshore wind farms are growing quickly, with the UK now having the largest offshore wind industry in the world.

Politicians Ignore People’s Power Pleas

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