84% of people in the UK support the use of waste and 77% the use of biomass for energy production, according to new survey results published by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).
Other key findings from the survey include 88% of 18-24 years olds believing the UK should be trying to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. 58% of people surveyed think the government should do more to tackle emissions, that number rising to 73% in the 18 – 24 year old demographic.
The annual YouGov survey commissioned by the ETI questioned over 3,200 British adults to gauge public perceptions on bioenergy in the UK. Significantly, the survey found that support for using bioenergy is at an all-time high.
“Bioenergy from biomass and waste already plays a significant role in delivering low carbon heat, power and transport fuels in the UK, and our research in this area aims to highlight the importance of developing the bioenergy sector to deliver cost-effective emissions reductions,” said Hannah Evans, strategy manager for bioenergy at the ETI.
The ETI’s Public Perceptions of Bioenergy survey has been carried out for the past three years to develop a better understanding of public opinion towards bioenergy and the factors that influence it. The Institute has found that the ability to generate energy from waste has been consistently viewed as the most positive feature of bioenergy, however, the Institute argues that other feedstocks also need to be developed.
“Until recently, bioenergy production has been dominated by waste feedstocks, but demand has risen for more sustainable UK-grown and imported biomass to meet emissions reduction targets,” said Evans. “To further increase supplies of UK-grown biomass, more energy crops and forestry need to be planted.”
With only 2% of respondents in 2017 believing that bioenergy has no positive features, ETI believes the strong support for bioenergy is vital to influencing policy.
“Alongside strong support for emissions reductions and other renewable energy sources, it is encouraging to see high levels of public support for bioenergy as a route to reducing emissions as this will influence the extent to which the sector will expand,” Evans continued.
“It is important to maintain strong public support for bioenergy as this could influence policy making and the willingness of farmers and foresters to produce additional biomass feedstocks. As well as raising awareness of the benefits of bioenergy, it will be important to address concerns by continuing to demonstrate the sustainability of bioenergy feedstocks.”
The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce and Shell – and the UK government.
For Evans, it is now pivotal for awareness and understanding of bioenergy in the UK to develop, if the sector is to flourish.
“Government action should lead on tackling greenhouse emissions and developing the bioenergy sector but the public are likely to look to other sources for reliable information on the sector, suggesting it will be crucial for different groups to work together to increase awareness and understanding of bioenergy while developing the sector in the UK,” she concluded in a statement announcing the survey results.