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Research reveals attitudes towards power generation

New research has revealed the public’s attitude towards newer forms of power generation and energy security. According to the latest statistics, support for the renewable energy sector continues to grow, while attitudes towards fracking and energy security were mixed.

Renewable Energy

The government figures, which were published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, showed that support for the renewable energy industry has risen to 81%.

The Public Attitudes Tracking survey also highlighted how the vast majority of people felt that renewable energy projects should deliver benefits to their local communities and how renewable energy was aiding the economy.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Hugh McNeal, said:

“It’s great that the British public sees how renewable energy is helping to grow the UK economy. Renewables are delivering investment and jobs throughout our country”.

The same survey demonstrated continued public support for offshore wind power, and with numerous wind farm schemes underway, including the ambitious Hornsea Project One, this form of energy is set to play a much greater part in the UK’s future energy production.

Nuclear Energy

The government survey showed that support for nuclear energy remained consistent with 38% in favour of it, and almost 50% of people viewed nuclear energy as a reliable form of power.

If EDF’s plans for the Hinkley Point plant, goes ahead, and with proposals for mini nuclear power stations advancing, nuclear power is likely provide a key role in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions in the future.

Fracking

The extraction of shale gas from the ground – or fracking – has always been a controversial issue, and the government figures highlighted mixed views on shale gas extraction. However, the majority of people who stated they were against it said so because they didn’t know enough about the practice.

Despite public concern, the government has stated it is committed to fracking. There are numerous projects in place around the UK already, and further support is being offered to increase investment in shale gas.

The future of energy security

With a need to find affordable, cleaner sources of power generation, the future of energy security has never been far from the news, and these concerns were also reflected in the government survey. The research showed the majority of people felt there isn’t enough money being invested in finding alternative means of energy and many were concerned over our reliance on gas and oil exports.

Low reserves in the North Sea means more than half of the UK’s gas and electricity is now imported and this has led to calls from industry bosses to do more to encourage exploration in the UK.

Businesses in favour of financial aid for energy efficiency

A survey by the British Chamber of Commerce and British Gas shows that UK businesses want the government to do more to accommodate the cost of the introduction of energy efficient measures into work environments.

Of the 2,100 companies surveyed, 36% of them said they felt that the introduction of grants to help with the cost of fitting new energy efficient measures would be the most significant measure the government could make. Financial aid was favoured by 43% in the manufacturing sector, while 19% of businesses felt tax breaks could be the solution.

However, a lack of funds and a lack of available information were also cited as reasons for not investing in energy efficiency measures at work.

Commenting on the survey, Director of Research and Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, Mike Spicer, stated:

“These results demonstrate that getting the economics of investment right for energy efficiency is crucial to promoting take-up. At a time when businesses face growing upfront cost pressures from other sources, grants and tax breaks have an important role to play in offsetting the cost of new energy efficiency measures. On its own, more information won’t do the job.”

Government Targets

The government has targets in place and it is keen to improve energy efficiency where it can in order to improve fuel security in the future and lower pollution. However, while energy use in industry has declined in recent years, many firms have still be left not knowing the best approach in order to make efficiency savings, or they are concerned the measures they adopt will not deliver the promised cost savings.

Wholesale prices

Many of the companies surveyed felt they hadn’t benefitted from changes in the wholesale gas prices. Of those surveyed, approximately 36% stated that the fall in wholesale prices had yet to be reflected in their energy bills, while 37% had noted little change in the price they pay for energy, despite the fall in wholesale prices.

According to the survey, micro-businesses have been impacted the most with 74% of them stating that there had been either no change or just minor changes in the cost of their bills.

Energy Efficiency and the Manufacturing Sector                

In the manufacturing sector, firms seemed less concerned with greater energy efficiency; their main focus is investing in the maintenance and enhancement of their manufacturing facilities. However, the number one reason for not making investment in energy efficiency was the concern that it wouldn’t deliver the promised energy savings.

Fresh concerns over manufacturing industry

CBI urges government to support manufacturing industry

The CBI has urged the government to take more action to support the manufacturing industry. Carolyn Fairburn, Director-General of the CBI made a speech on Thursday, May 5, in which she called on the government to back an industrial strategy for the future.

As part of the strategy, Ms Fairburn stated that each part of the manufacturing industry should have a strategic plan. The Director-General said:

“Every manufacturing sector should have a plan for its future and many already do - we would suggest that each plan addresses these three questions.

“First, is the sector strategic for the UK?  Second, is the sector currently globally competitive, and if not why not? Does the UK have a competitive advantage?

“Third, what actions could government and business take to make it more competitive?”

Key factors holding back manufacturing

During the speech, Ms Fairburn detailed how three key factors: skills, energy and research and development were holding back the manufacturing industry.

The director-general called for more action to be taken to encourage young people to join the industry by highlighting what manufacturing looks like in the 21st century, rather than the old fashioned image some might have of it.

Energy Costs and Research and Development

While measures have been put in place to reduce energy costs of businesses, Ms. Fairburn stated they needed to be more of effort to find cost effective sources of energy to fuel businesses, which will help make them more economical to run, and she also urged the government to commit more funding to research and development in the manufacturing industry.

Concerns over Manufacturing

Ms. Fairburn’s speech comes at a time when they are a number of concern over the future of the manufacturing industry in the UK. The steel industry faces an uncertain future as workers at Tata wait to find if a buyer for the plant will be found, and the PFI figures are the worse for three years.

The uncertainty surrounding June’s Brexit vote is also fuelling the uncertainty that surrounds certain sectors of the UK’s manufacturing industry.

Markit Performance Marketing Index

The report by Markit highlighted concerns over the UK manufacturing industry and the effect this might have on the wider economy. Currently, there is a decline in domestic demand and in export orders. Moreover, there have been job losses in the sector in four consecutive months, according to the latest figures.

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