Public opinion on Hinkley Point power station and other sources of electricity

Harris 24 surveyed 500 people within an hour

Mark Brenton

Nuclear energy has been in the news recently with many people expressing concerns about the cost of building nuclear reactors at the Hinkley Point power station, due to provide 7% of UK electricity by 2025. Another hot topic was that renewable energy outstripped coal for the first time in the UK, but that the Government is planning to slash solar subsidies for households by 87% as evidence suggests its driving bills for those without solar panels.

To gauge public opinion, we used our Harris 24 service to survey over 500 members of the public within an hour and ask their thoughts on nuclear, solar and other alternative sources of energy.

First we asked respondents to select a statement that best described their view of building nuclear reactors. Almost 31% said they were necessary to “keep the lights on”, over 27% said they had safety concerns over nuclear power and 26% said they’d prefer to rely on other sources of renewable energy. Interesting to note that only 11% said they were an expensive mistake given recent publicity, suggesting many see nuclear as a necessary evil.

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Next we asked who should foot most of the bill for building nuclear power stations. The majority was clear with almost 44% selecting energy companies. The Government was selected by 23% of respondents and 11% saying private investors. 1 in 5 said they shouldn’t be built at all. EDF, the supplier behind Hinkley Point, has recently postponed the announcement of its investment plans until September.

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Although the first two questions suggest there’s some support for nuclear, when asked their preferred main source of electricity for the UK (coal vs. nuclear vs. renewables), respondents only rated nuclear 4th (11%), behind hydro (13%), offshore wind (18%) and solar PV (19%). Nuclear ranked only just ahead of bioenergy (energy from agricultural waste), so, whilst people understand the need for nuclear as part of the UK energy mix, renewable sources are much preferred, suggesting they don’t want it to become the primary source.

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Whilst solar PV ranked as the most favoured source of electricity, when it comes to installing solar PV at home, there’s still obstacles to overcome and, like nuclear, cost is the major one. Almost 30% of consumers stated that they’d have solar panels but can’t afford the upfront costs, suggesting more still needs to be done by the Government and suppliers to promote affordable financing schemes or free solar panel schemes, where consumers can still save money on their bills but don’t get the benefit of the Feed In Tariff.

Nearly a quarter (23%) stated they couldn’t have solar on their roof, which is a bigger obstacle to overcome, but a further 16% said that they didn’t know enough about solar panels and the costs and benefits to make a decision. These findings suggest that more needs to be done to educate consumers so that they can make an informed decision on whether to install solar or not and, if the Government is to cut the Feed In Tariff, then the challenge of getting consumers doing their bit for the UK energy mix will become even harder.

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If you would like discuss this research further, do something similar or look to conduct specific market research for your company with industry expert insight contact Jonathan Pitts on 0161 242 1363.

 

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