British public strongly support renewable energy, survey says

74% of UK population wants to see more Solar power, finds a YouGov survey
Leo Blog : Wind turbines In Llandinam, Wales
Does the UK have a "silent majority" in support of further investment in renewables? You wouldn't necessarily think so if you listen to the very vocal, media-driven opposition against, say, wind power, but a recent YouGov survey commissioned by the Sunday Times suggests the true picture might be a little different.
The Sunday Times itself chose not to report the YouGov findings related to renewables (you can draw your own conclusions as to why.

The real point of interest here can be found on page nine, which asks: "Thinking about the country's future energy provision, do you think the government should be looking to use more or less of the following?"
Solar power
More than at present - 74%
Less than at present - 6%
Maintain current levels - 12%
Not sure - 9%
Wind farms
More than at present - 56%
Less than at present - 19%
Maintain current levels - 15%
Not sure - 9%
Nuclear power stations
More than at present - 35%
Less than at present - 27%
Maintain current levels - 23%
Not sure - 15%
Oil power stations
More than at present - 10%
Less than at present - 47%
Maintain current levels - 27%
Not sure - 17%
Coal power stations
More than at present - 16%
Less than at present - 43%
Maintain current levels - 25%
Not sure - 17%

It then asks: "Do you think the government is right or wrong to subsidise wind farms to encourage more use of wind power?"
Right 60%
Wrong 26%
Don't know 15%
Do you think increased use of solar power is a realistic way of combating climate change?
Realistic 67%
Not realistic 18%
Don't know 15%
Over at BusinessGreen, James Murray describes the survey results as "explosive", especially given that they "follow months during which the right-wing press has waged an increasingly virulent campaign against climate change, wind farms, renewable energy, and the green levies that pay for it". (See Duncan Clark's assessment of how "UK newspaper coverage is skewed against renewables".)

As Murray correctly points out, it is worth the time drilling down into the various demographic, political and regional breakdowns of the results. For example, you see a clear age bias when it comes to wind farms. As the age of the respondent increases, their support for wind falls, but not to the point where the majority of the "60+" grouping are against it. The older respondents tend to be more supportive of nuclear energy, too. But support for solar energy is near equal across all age groups.

It is worth noting the political differences, too. For example, 43% of Conservative voters say they want more wind farms than at present, compared to 62% of Labour voters and 70% of Liberal Democrat voters. Equally, Conservative voters are noticeably more supportive of nuclear energy than Labour or Lib Dem voters.

But, somewhat counter-intuitively, support for wind farms is lowest among London-based respondents (49%) compared to areas that might consider themselves more at risk of being "blighted" by wind farms, say, Midland/Wales (57%) and Scotland (59%). Sadly, the survey doesn't distinguish between urban, suburban and rural residents, as those results might have provided extra illumination.

James Murray describes the survey's findings as the "best kind of early Christmas present" for the "government's green agenda". I'm not sure I would go that far – it is only one snapshot survey, after all – but it does provide grist to the theory that there is a danger that the vocal minority (and their powerful media allies) who oppose investment in renewable energy shouldn't be allowed to drown out the views of the silent majority who seemingly favour such an approach.