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Polling shows overwhelming support for grasping the industrial and economic benefits of renewables.

By Nathan Bennett, Director of Communications, RenewableUK

The latest polling by Opinium has shown that the British public are overwhelmingly in support of the roll out of renewable energy, the growth of green industry and net zero. This comes at a time in which the opportunity to secure investment in renewable energy sector manufacturing has never been higher, and the competition for it fiercer. More specifically the British public:

- Want the Prime Minister to go further on renewable energy roll out, green growth and decarbonisation.

- Not only are policies to grow green industries like offshore wind as popular as the Prime Minister’s ‘top 5 priorities’ (in some cases more so), but a far greater proportion of voters believe they’re achievable and deliverable.

- The public see renewable energy and other green industries as more likely to drive economic growth outside of London and the South East than any of the Chancellor’s other ‘priority sectors’ of the economy – giving the sector a greater appeal to those areas.

- A much greater proportion of the UK public want the Government to focus on investment in wind energy than fossil fuels.

The Prime Minister needs to listen to the people of Britain, because they’re right. In addition to analysing the polling, this blog will outline the economic opportunity presented by the renewables sector and the popular policies the Chancellor could take forward to assure the UK grasps them – and that the manufacturing opportunity isn’t lost to competitor nations.

First, there are far more current voters think the Conservative voters who think the Government could do more on climate change, renewables and the green economy than currently Conservative voters who think the Government ‘have gone too far’.

Members of Parliament should not mistake one community’s opinion on the ‘Ultra Low Emissions Zone’ as an UK-wide all-encompassing referendum on what everyone thinks about net zero, green technologies and the roll out of renewable energy.

The latest polling shows:

  • There are far more current Conservative voters who think the Government could do more on climate change, renewables and the green economy than currently Conservative voters who think the Government ‘gone too far’.

  • Voters at large are even more likely to believe that the Government have ‘not gone far enough’, with concern highest in voters who are currently planning to switch their vote from Conservative to Labour at the next election. 67% of Conservative to Labour ‘switchers’ think the Prime Minister hasn’t gone far enough in increasing the use of renewable energy and 57% think he hasn’t done enough to tackle climate change or grow the green economy.

Question: Which of the following do you think best describes Rishi Sunak and the Conservative government’s approach to the following?

Question 1

Similarly, there are considerably more voters who would have a more favourable view of the Conservative party if they were to increase investment in renewables, than voters who would have less favourable view – and that’s even when you prompt people to think about that investment in the context of everything else Government could be spending money on.

Over a third of Conservative to Labour ‘switchers’ would warm towards the Conservative party if they increased investment in renewables.

Question 2

As this point, it’s worth reminding you all of some of the key benefits of renewables which are making the sector so popular:

Important to note for our next set of polling, the jobs and investment that flows from renewable energy and green technologies is widely dispersed across the UK.

Above all other priority sectors of the economy, renewable energy and other green industries are seen as most likely to drive jobs and investment into areas of the UK outside of London and the South East.

At the start of this year, the Chancellor outlined a number of sectors of the economy which he would prioritise for growth and investment. If you poll each of these sectors against each other – a far greater proportion of the public believe renewable energy and other green industries will drive jobs and investment into areas of the UK outside of London and the South East than any other key sector. Again, this is particularly high amongst Conservative to Labour switchers.

Question 3

This public perception is founded on a reality. Both the renewable energy sector and the green economy at large are incredibly effective at driving growth across the UK.

It was notable that the polling also showed that a large majority of the public see renewables as an effective means of providing good jobs in ‘left behind’ areas. Again, this is born from lived reality.

The offshore wind industry, for example, is bringing thousands of new jobs to coastal communities much in need of economic revitalisation – be that the operations and maintenance bases at Grimsby, Lowestoft, Barrow and more, the new JDR Cables factory in Blyth, the new foundations factory in Teesside, the blade factories in Hull and the Isle of Wight, or the new cables factory in Nigg in Scotland. You can keep listing these examples for hours – and it’s understood by voters.

Question: In the following question by renewable energy we mean energy from a source that is not depleted when used. The most common examples are wind or solar power. Do you think a growing UK renewable energy sector would have a positive or negative effect on each of the following, or will it make little difference either way?

Question 4

Not only are policies which support the development of the renewable energy sector as popular as the Prime Minister’s five goals, but they’re seen as far more achievable and deliverable.

This is the critical polling from the sector’s perspective. To understand why, you have to know the context.

Global renewable energy ambitions, and the pipeline of planned developments, have increased enormously in recent years. As a result, there is going to have to be a significant increase in renewable energy manufacturing and wider supply chain investment in the next couple of years. For example, meeting Europe’s collective ambitions of 165GW of offshore wind by 2030 alone will require:

  • Double the number of turbine factories to deliver 1,300 turbines each year.

  • Four times as many fixed bottom foundation manufacturing facilities.

  • Up to 10 times as many factories producing floating foundations.

There is an enormous opportunity for the UK, a leader in offshore wind, to secure much of this necessary investment in new manufacturing (which we’re going to need to see as soon as 2026!). However, the USA's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the EU’s Green Industrial Strategy both have measures which seek to make their nations a more attractive place for these investments than the UK. For example,

  • The IRA includes tax incentives, grants, loans and other programmes to support clean energy development, manufacturing and supply chains - including specific Tax Credits for wind energy component manufacturing in the USA). In total, the US now provides a US $120million subsidy to the supply chain of each new 1GW wind farm.

  • Following the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act, the EU immediately relaxed state aid rules, enabling member countries to offer grants to manufacturing firms to incentivise them to locate in their market. The EU are expected to publish further measures in their ‘Green Industrial Strategy’, currently in development. The Chancellor signalled his intention to use the Autumn Statement to outline part of the UK’s response to the Inflation Reduction Act, which is incredibly welcome – as new measures are necessary to keep the UK competitive for investment, most notably:

  1. A commitment to reform the Government’s system of unlocking investment in clean energy projects (CfD auctions) to better incentivise and enable supply chain investment.

  2. The establishment of new policy and/or funding which unlocks private investment in port infrastructure so that they’re large enough to house new offshore wind manufacturing and assembly facilities.

  3. New tax incentives and/or grants which:

  • Encourage renewable energy investment, particularly an extension of the Government’s recent reforms to Capital Allowances

  • Make the UK a more competitive location for manufacturing investment via other tax measures and co-investment.

  • Increase funding for research and development.

We polled a number of these measures – which would help form an UK industrial strategy for renewables – and not only are they as popular as the Prime Minister’s 5 Pledges, but the public see them as far more achievable and deliverable. Most notably, as with the other polling questions, these measures are even more popular with voters currently switching from Conservative to Labour.

Question 5

Of all the various energy technologies, people think the Chancellor should be focused on attracting investment into renewables, not fossil fuels

Regardless of your views on the pros and cons of new fossil fuel licencing, it is worth noting that the proportion of the public who want the Government to focus efforts on attracting investment into wind, solar, tidal and hydrogen vastly exceed the proportion who want to prioritise oil and gas. Again, this is particularly true of people currently switching their vote from Conservative to Labour.

Question 6



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