To anyone reading many of our national newspapers, the UK is in the process of being taken over by wind farms powered by the grungy green fringe and financed by loony government subsidies. A vocal minority, financed by vested interest, continue to promote the doubt rather than respect the facts, and find a welcome mouthpiece amongst right-wing media and politicians.
Behind the headlines, the reality of the situation is that we are dangerously reliant on the decisions of non-UK corporates and governments as to how we are to keep the lights on in the future. According to Good Energy's own research, 57% of the fuel used to generate electricity to power homes and businesses in Britain comes from abroad. It's imported from as many as 40 countries, making us susceptible to international events beyond our control - and is the main factor driving rising wholesale energy prices.
Instinctively, it feels uncomfortable to be so reliant on so many countries for something as basic as energy - especially when the UK has abundant renewable resources here at home. So it's not surprising that our research, conducted by YouGov, shows that 71% of consumers are concerned the majority of fuel used to generate electricity comes from overseas. But our findings reflect a bigger, quiet groundswell amongst the UK public confirmed by other research. A poll by Friends of the Earth at the launch of their Clean British Energy campaign found that there is overwhelming public support for an increase in the amount of renewable energy generated in this country. Some 85% of people want the government to source our electricity from UK renewable energy - instead of relying on costly foreign gas.
Renewable energy is not a blot on the landscape and a drag on our bills, it is our economic future. According to the Renewable Energy Association, 'Made in Britain' report, in 2010/11 the UK renewables industry was worth £12.5 billion and supported 110,000 jobs. The report says that meeting the UK's renewable energy targets would displace fossil fuels with a cumulative value of £60 billion to 2020, giving a significant boost to the UK's balance of trade.
The UK population really cares where their energy comes from and understands the economic impact. What is exciting is that people are also keen to take action themselves. An amazing 41% of those surveyed by YouGov for Good Energy, claim to be interested in generating their own renewable electricity. The will is there, we just need public policy to empower people to take more responsibility for their own energy consumption. The success of the government's Feed-in Tariff, which provides financial support for microgeneration schemes, demonstrates that if you give people the opportunity and make it financially viable, they will take action for a cleaner, greener future.
Fortunately for UK plc, the general public is not taken in by the rhetoric based on a 20th century world view of endless cheap energy driving outdated dirty technologies. Good Energy's growing community of over 35,000 independent renewable electricity generators the length and breadth of Britain serves as a model for what the country's energy system could and should be like. Unlike massive power plants controlled by faceless corporations, renewable energy generation is open to all. Households, small businesses and communities using local resources to generate their own electricity are the key to achieving future energy security in the UK.
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