Copper’s Director of Energy Infrastructure, Sam Cranston, provides his analysis of the outcome of our Attitudes to low carbon energy production report.
As the drive to net zero takes centre and commanding stage on the UK’s agenda, the rollout of new technologies and resources in energy generation seems to be picking up at an ever-increasing pace. Whilst low carbon energy generation is a critical component in the road to net zero, we need to make sure that we are taking the public on that rapid road with us, and that they have a clear understanding of the technologies that are helping to drive that journey.
In our most recent Attitudes report, we’ve delved into the public’s understanding of and attitude towards sources of low carbon energy and the technologies behind them. What our findings suggest is that, unsurprisingly, public attitudes towards net zero technologies and green energy show widespread support, but what is key is that this support requires context.
People have heard ad nauseam about the need for low carbon, and the essential switch to net zero, but as it comes into fruition in the form of physical infrastructure, there needs to be clear understanding of the benefits, the risks and overall – how this change will affect society and the people in it.
One key finding to pull out from this report is the need to secure the UK’s place on the global green stage. With 62% of people thinking the UK should be a world leader in low carbon innovation, and 62% supporting investment in homegrown technology. What’s clear is that the public don’t just want a cleaner, greener future, they want this to come hand in hand with a boost to homegrown jobs, technologies and our historic manufacturing sector.
Good public support is no doubt a strong place to start, but it’s not a wave that should be ridden easily. As this report shows, new and emerging technologies don’t yet enjoy clear levels of support and understanding. New, but pivotal low carbon options such as hydrogen gas and carbon capture, show a general lack of awareness with 52% of respondees showing no opinion on either. What we’ve seen is that a lack of awareness can breed apprehension, and that apprehension can rapidly spread into distrust and rejection, two in one can see the collapse of a project – no matter how green the benefits may be.
As we move closer to our net zero targets, the Government and the sector needs to continue to harness public support, but to also bolster it with a clear understanding of not just the technologies and their environmental benefits, but the benefits for everyday communities – the creation of jobs and boosted economies, and in a post-Brexit world, the investment back into homegrown technologies and the UK overall.
Click here to read the full report, and for more information on Copper’s work in the energy sector and the major green infrastructure projects we’ve helped support, contact Sam.Cranston@copperconsultancy.com