Nine in ten people in the UK want to see greater use of renewable energy and less dependence on fossil fuels, according to a new survey commissioned by Friends of the Earth. Launching the Clean British Energy campaign, the environmental group revealed that 85 per cent of people want the government to do more to support the generation of clean energy within the UK and import less gas.
The response shouldn’t be too surprising – imported gas is one of the biggest reasons fuel bills are rising. In spite of continued efforts to increase to UK’s uptake of renewable energy through schemes like the feed-in tariff, just 9.5 per cent of the UK’s electricity is generated by renewable energy sources. As prime minister David Cameron gives his first “green speech” at the Clean Energy Ministerial summit this week, Friends of the Earth is calling on him to shift the energy market away from the Big Six energy corporations and help smaller, cleaner companies into the market.
Over the last couple of years, smaller firms have received a boost from the feed-in tariff scheme, which rewards homeowners and businesses for installing solar PV generation systems through a company like EvoEnergy. However, the rate paid for energy generated through the scheme proved to be unsustainable, and a series of cuts have dampened the public’s enthusiasm for home solar power somewhat.
This isn’t to say that solar power is on the way out in the UK – far from it, the solar industry now employs more than 29,000 people, while developing other renewable sources such as offshore wind power could create as many as 66,000 jobs by 2020, according to Friends of the Earth. The UK’s tidal power systems are among some of the most advanced in the world, and the campaign group claims there are further opportunities in exporting our technology and expertise around the globe.
On May 9th, the Queen is due to announce a new government bill that will set the rules for the UK’s electricity generation, but these don’t give renewable sources the prominence that many campaigners would like: they’re still focused on fossil fuels, subsidies for nuclear power and the ongoing domination of the Big Six. Friends of the Earth is urging those who want to see this changed to email energy secretary Ed Davey from its new campaign website and encourage positive change in the market.