A clear and consistent majority of people is in favour of increased investment in renewable energy, according to the results of a major new poll that will provide a boost to those ministers currently opposing the chancellor's plans for a new "dash for gas".
The YouGov survey
of over 1,700 adults commissioned by the Sunday Times
reveals 72 per cent
of respondents think the UK should be looking to use more solar power.
In contrast, just 17 per cent of people want to see more coal or more gas-fired power plants, while 43 and 36 per cent respectively want to see less.
The high levels of support for solar power are consistent across all age groups, voting intentions and regions, with just five per cent of people saying the UK should use less solar power than it does at present.
Support for more nuclear power
has risen in the past year from 35 to 40 per cent of respondents, although 20 per cent said they want to see less nuclear, 21 per cent said they wanted to maintain current levels, and 19 per cent were unsure.
Proposals for gas fracking projects
that are increasingly favoured by some Conservative ministers also faced decidedly mixed public opinion, with 32 per cent of people saying the government should support fracking, 30 per cent saying it should not, and 38 per cent saying they don't know.
The results are largely in line with a number of similar polls from earlier this year, each of which showed high levels of support for low carbon energy technologies.
The survey is likely to be welcomed by the Lib Dems and green Conservatives who are currently battling with the Treasury to ensure the upcoming Energy Bill secures sufficient support for renewables and nuclear power, and does not trigger a renewed "dash for gas".
Mat Smith, deputy chief executive of trade association Renewable UK, said the poll again highlighted the popularity of clean technologies.
"This is an unequivocal vote of confidence in renewable energy"
"One stark message from this survey is the public's evident disenchantment with fossil fuels, including the unpopularity of fracking for shale gas. The British public is telling us that we are right to be making this landmark transition from a perilous fossil fuel addiction to a low-carbon future."
Only 17 per cent identified the rising price of oil and gas for the increases in bills, and only four per cent cited the need to invest in new infrastructure as the main cause for the recent wave in energy tariff price hikes.
In contrast, 58 per cent said "energy companies taking bigger profits" was the main cause for increased bills.