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British Academy survey reveals most attractive community energy projects for investment

Press release •
  • Solar power was the most popular energy project to invest in or co-own amongst British adults
  • Amongst those aged 60+ energy from waste was the most popular option
  • Lowering of household bills was cited as the most popular reason for investing or co-owning a local community energy project.

The British Academy has today published the results of a YouGov survey on community energy investment and co-ownership as part of its series of Debates on Energy and the Environment and its Community Energy Generation project. The survey reveals insights into people’s opinions about community owned energy projects, and different types of energy investment.

The survey asked people to select which type of energy project they would be most interested in investing in or co-owning; the options given were solar panels/ grid, energy from waste, wind farm / turbine, biomass, hydropower and geothermal. Of these options, solar power was the most popular (28%) and geothermal was the least popular with only 4%.

There were some differences between age groups and which type of energy project people were most keen to invest in; the most popular option amongst those over 60 was energy from waste (24%) whereas, in line with the general population, the project 18-24 year olds were most interested in investing in or co-owning was solar power.

The survey also asked why people might want to invest in or co-own a community energy project. By far the most popular answer was to reduce the cost of their household bills (47%). A high financial return on investment from an energy project was also popular (23%). Only 6% of those surveyed said their main reason would be to allow them to be more involved in their local community.

 A panel of experts discussed local energy projects, co-ownership of energy generation and how we can change the rapidly growing cities of the world at a British Academy Debate in Edinburgh on 4 November.

Alongside its Debates on Energy and the Environment, the British Academy has commissioned a team led by Rebecca Willis, in association with Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, to research case studies of community energy projects across the world, to understand better the cultural contexts behind those projects. Her team will be asking why community energy projects – such as co-operatively owned wind farms, or shared solar panels – take root in some countries rather than others.

Further information about the British Academy Debates: Energy and the Environment:

The British Academy Debates on Energy and the Environment were free events bringing together leading minds from across the humanities, social sciences, engineering and sciences to discuss issues ranging from how we can meet the future demands for energy, to what could influence people to change their energy behaviour.

The events were in partnership with the Royal Society, and supported by The Climate Change Collaboration. The events took place in London (22 September), Swansea (14 October), Edinburgh (4 November) and London (24 November).www.britishacademy.ac.uk/energy.

Editors notes:

1. For further information, images, interviews or videos of the Debates, please contact the Press Office on press@britac.ac.uk or 020 7969 5227.

2. The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value. For more information, please visit www.britishacademy.ac.uk. Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news

3. The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. http://royalsociety.org

4. The Climate Change Collaboration is a collaboration of four of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts - Ashden Trust, JJ Charitable Trust, Mark Leonard Trust and Tedworth Trust. Its priority is to support effective, socially-just action that mitigates climate change. It encourages collaboration between its beneficiaries to share expertise and disseminate learning.

5. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,595 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st-23rd October 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).