Survey finds strong support for bioenergy with young people - sowing the seeds of change for reducing emissions in the UK

Posted On: 
2nd October 2017

Young people in the UK are the main supporters of greenhouse emissions reduction and believe that the Government need to do more to deliver emissions savings, according to a new survey carried out for the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

The annual YouGov survey commissioned by the ETI questioned over 3,200 GB adults to gauge public perceptions of bioenergy in the UK. The survey found that support for using bioenergy as an energy source is at an all-time high, with 77% of respondents backing the use of biomass fuel and 84% supporting the use of waste for bioenergy production.

  • 88% of 18 - 24 year olds believe that the UK should be trying to reduce greenhouse emissions
  • 58% of people in the UK think that the Government should do more to tackle emissions, rising to 73% amongst 18 - 24 year olds
  • Strong support for bioenergy – 84% of people support the use of waste and 77% the use of biomass for bioenergy production

Key to influencing policy and driving change, 88% of 18 - 24 year olds expressed that the UK as a whole should be engaged in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with 73% of this age group looking to the Government to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Bioenergy is one of the largest providers of renewable energy in the UK and it is the only low carbon energy source currently used to produce heat, power and transport fuels. The ETI believes that there is a continued importance in developing the bioenergy sector to deliver cost-effective emissions reductions.

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 organisation has found that the ability to generate energy from waste has been consistently viewed as the most positive feature and opposition to using biomass and waste as energy sources has remained at a very low level, with only 2% of respondents in 2017 believing that bioenergy had no positive features.

The support for Government-led action to tackle greenhouse gas emissions has also remained consistent. This year’s findings show that 58% of all respondents thought that the Government should do more to reduce emissions. However, respondents said that they are more likely to trust scientists and experts, industry watchdogs and environmental interest groups to provide reliable information on the sector.

Hannah Evans, ETI Strategy Manager for Bioenergy said:

“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.

“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. To further increase supplies of UK-grown biomass, more energy crops and forestry need to be planted.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

The ETI’s whole energy system analysis shows that bioenergy can play a significant and valuable role as part of a balanced mix of technologies in a future long term low carbon UK energy system, and help reduce the cost of meeting the country’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

During 2017 the ETI is releasing technical data and reports from projects delivered across its technology programmes over the last 10 years. It has just released over 100 documents to its website from its Bioenergy Programme which can be found at http://www.eti.co.uk/programmes/bioenergy