Two thirds of Scots don’t think the government’s plan for local renewable energy schemes is ambitious enough, and three out of four are prepared to pay extra to see it happen, a survey reveals today.

A YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK conducted last week for Friends of the Earth, the Renewable Energy Association and the Co-operative Group reveals that in all parts of the UK, the public strongly supports a call for a more ambitious feed-in tariff.

The UK Government is expected within the next few days to publish details of its feed-in tariff proposals, ‘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.

Local renewable energy champions Friends of the Earth Scotland, 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.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive Duncan McLaren said:

“The public overwhelmingly wants government to think big when it comes to small-scale renewable energy. The Scottish Government has made some tough decisions to support large scale renewables. Now Ministers in both Westminster and Holyrood need to step up their ambition for micro-power.

“Our homes, businesses and communities could become green power stations – but bigger government incentives and simple planning rules 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. Scottish Ministers must also finish the job of clarifying planning rules for micro-power with a simple and relaxed regime for air-source heat pumps and micro-wind turbines which are particularly suitable in parts of Scotland where there is no piped gas supply.”

The survey findings include:

64% of Scottish home-owners said that they would consider fitting micro-generation schemes if feed-in tariffs were generous enough.

Once told that Government research shows the UK could supply up to a third of its electricity needs from smaller, local renewable energy systems, more than two thirds, 67%, 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.

78% said that they would be prepared to pay an extra 10 pence on their electricity bills each month, on top of the additional 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 lead to three times more local green electricity in 2020 than currently planned.

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.”

Renewable Energy Association Head of External Affairs Leonie Greene said:

“The public have given us 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.

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), 83% said that the UK’s record on renewable energy was unacceptable.

82% agreed (43% 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.

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact:
Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
T: 0131 243 2719

Notes to editors

1. The Government agreed to introduce a feed-in tariff – or as the Government is calling it Clean Energy Cashback – in 2008 following a successful campaign 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 energy generators up to 5MW (equivalent to two large wind turbines) is due to start in April 2010.

Draft tariff payments were published last year, and these are expected to be finalised in the next few days. But Friends of the Earth, and the Renewable Energy Association and the Cooperative Group say that the scheme lacks ambition and that higher payments 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’: www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/feed_in_tariffs_30112009.html

2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,130 adults, of which 194 were from Scotland. 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. 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.

4. Friends of the Earth Scotland is the country’s leading independent environmental campaigning organisation, and is the only organisation in Scotland that is working for environmental justice, campaigning for the planet and its people. www.foe-scotland.org.uk