Archived press release
Public back calls for more ambitious green electricity scheme for homes, businesses and communities

Two thirds of the population think that the Government's plans to pay homes, businesses and communities for generating green electricity from renewable energy systems such as solar panels, small hydro and wind turbines are not ambitious enough, and 71 per cent of homeowners said they would consider installing green energy systems if they were paid enough cash, a new survey reveals today [1].

The Government is expected within the next few days to publish details of its feed-in tariff proposals [2] (or 'clean energy cash-back'), which aim to encourage homes, businesses and communities to install small-scale renewable energy systems by paying them at a premium rate for all the green electricity they generate.

But local renewable energy champions Friends of the Earth, the Renewable Energy Association and the Co-operative Group say that the scheme, which has an overall ambition to supply just two per cent of UK electricity from small-scale renewable energy sources (up to 5MW) by 2020, should offer higher payments than those proposed and aim to deliver far more clean electricity.

A new YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people conducted last week for Friends of the Earth, the Renewable Energy Association and the Cooperative Group strongly supports the call for a more ambitious feed-in tariff. The findings include:

·    Once told that Government research shows the UK could supply up to a third of its electricity needs from smaller, local renewable energy systems, nearly two thirds (64%) of those questioned agreed that Government ambitions to supply two per cent of UK electricity from its feed-in tariff scheme are not ambitious enough [3].

·    70% said that they would be prepared to pay an extra 10 pence on their electricity bills each month (£1.20 annually), on top of the already proposed annual increase of £1.17, until 2013 when the scheme is due to be reviewed, to enable the Government to introduce a more ambitious scheme from the outset. This could put us on track to deliver three times more local green electricity in 2020 than currently planned [4].

·    71% per cent of home-owners said that they would consider fitting micro-generation schemes if feed-in tariffs were generous enough [5].

Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

"The public overwhelmingly wants the Government to think big when it comes to small-scale renewable energy.

"Our homes, businesses and communities could become green power stations - but bigger Government incentives are needed to make this a reality.

"Ministers must listen and introduce an ambitious feed-in tariff scheme that will encourage millions of households, companies and communities across the UK to join the green energy revolution.

"This will help tackle climate change, create new jobs and businesses and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

"The recent freezing weather and concerns about future energy supplies have powerfully made the case for generating more of our energy at a local level."

The Co-operative Group's Sustainable Development Manager Chris Shearlock said:

"As a business that has campaigned for strong climate change legislation, is taking action to reduce its own emissions and owns the UKs largest solar power project, we want to be able to use small-scale renewables on our stores and branches around the country.

"Without feed-in tariffs offering a greater level of return - along the lines available to larger renewables supported by the Renewables Obligation - this opportunity will be sadly lost."

REA Head of External Affairs Leonie Greene said:

"The public have given an incredible show of support for renewable energy, even in the deepest recession for a generation.

"The involvement of everyday people and businesses can transform the UK's renewable energy industry and bring down technology costs - as is the case in other European countries.

"The new renewable electricity payment schemes that will be announced shortly should make it easier for everyone to invest - let's hope the Government delivers the ambitious scheme we clearly all want."

The poll also reveals overwhelming public support for greater investment in renewable energy to generate jobs, increase energy security and tackle climate change, even in the recession.

·    Upon learning that the Government estimates that 80 per cent of our gas will come from overseas by 2020,  88 per cent agreed (51 per cent strongly agreed) that the UK should spend more money developing renewables to make us less dependent on importing gas [6].

·    When informed that the UK produces the least renewable energy out of the 27 countries in the EU except for Malta (approximately four times lower than the European average of eight per cent), 82 per cent said that the UK's record on renewable energy was unacceptable [7].

·    79 per cent agreed (39 per cent strongly agreed) that the Government should invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to boost an economic recovery, create tens of thousands of jobs, reduce our reliance on overseas fossil fuels and help tackle climate change even if this were at the expense of other plans [8].

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1.    The Government agreed to introduce a feed-in tariff - or Clean Energy Cashback, as the Government is calling it - in 2008 following a successful campaign led by Friends of the Earth and the Renewable Energy Association. The scheme, which will pay homes, businesses and communities for all the green energy they generate from small scale renewable electricity schemesup to 5MW (equivalent to two large wind turbines) is due to start in April  2010.

Draft details of the scheme were published last year, and these are expected to be finalised in the next few days. But Friends of the Earth, the Renewable Energy Association and the Cooperative Group say that the scheme lacks ambition and that higher payments and other reforms are needed to ensure that significant numbers of people install small scale green energy systems and help the UK slash greenhouse gas emissions, create new green jobs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

See Friends of the Earth press release, 'Small-scale green energy schemes could generate more electricity than two nuclear power stations': http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/feed_in_tariffs_30112009.html

A Friends of the Earth feed-in tariffs briefing is available from Friends of the Earth's press office.

2.    All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,130 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from 19 - 21 January 2010.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

3.    Question: Government research shows that the UK could supply up to a third of its electricity needs from smaller, local renewable energy systems. The Government's feed-in tariff proposals aim to supply two per cent of UK electricity demand by 2020; at the moment, the amount supplied is negligible. Do you think the Government's plans are..?

Not ambitious enough - 64 per cent

About right - 17 per cent

Too ambitious - six per cent

Don't know - 13 per cent

4.    Current feed-in tariff proposals are likely to add £1.17 to an annual electricity bill up to 2013, when the scheme will be reviewed.

Would you be prepared to pay an extra 10 pence each month (£1.20 annually) on your electricity bill for the next three to four years (when the scheme will be reviewed), to enable the Government to introduce a more ambitious scheme that could lead to three times as much green electricity being generated by homes, businesses and communities by 2020 than currently planned?

Yes I would - 70 per cent

No, I wouldn't - 14 per cent

Don't know - 11 per cent

n/a - I am not in charge of paying my electricity bill - six per cent

5.    If you are a home owner, would you consider installing renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, in your home if you received enough money from the Government's feed-in tariff scheme? (If you are not currently a homeowner, either owning your home outright or buying with a mortgage, please tick "Not applicable").

Yes I would - 53 per cent

No, I wouldn't - eight per cent

Don't know - 14 per cent

n/a I am not a homeowner - 25 per cent

NOTE: This question has been recalculated, removing non-home owners from sample, to produce the figure that "71% per cent of home-owners said that they would consider fitting micro-generation schemes if FITs was generous enough."

6.    Gas security has recently been in the news, with the Government estimating that by 2020, 80 per cent of our gas will come from overseas.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

The UK should spend money on developing its own renewable resources (which include renewable heat and renewable gas) to help make it less dependent on importing gas from other countries

Strongly agree - 51 per cent

Agree - 36 per cent

Neither agree/ disagree - seven per cent

Disagree - one per cent

Strongly disagree - one per cent

Don't know - four per cent

7.    According to the latest Eurostat data (2007), the UK produces the least renewable energy out of the 27 countries in the EU except for Malta; approximately four times lower than the European average of eight per cent.

Do you consider this to be...?

Acceptable - five per cent

Unacceptable - 82 per cent

Don't know/ no view - 13 per cent

8.    To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

The Government should strongly invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to boost an economic recovery, create tens of thousands of new jobs, reduce our reliance on overseas fossil fuels and help tackle climate change, even if this were at the expense of other plans.

Strongly agree - 39 per cent

Agree - 40 per cent

Neither agree/ disagree - 12 per cent

Disagree - three per cent

Strongly disagree - one per cent

Don't know - five per cent

 

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust