77% Australians support big solar – but renewables knowledge gap remains

Print Friendly

Just as coal-fired energy generation appears to be losing its social licence to operate in parts of Australia, a new survey has found that more than three quarters of Australians support the development of new, large-scale solar power plants.

The survey, conducted by independent market research company Ipsos, found that 77 per cent of Australians thought large-scale solar plants would play a significant role in helping meet the nation’s future energy needs.

Another 60 per cent thought funding for large-scale solar facilities should be prioritised over funding for non-renewable energy sources.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.57.44 pm

Most popular sources of energy for Australia: somewhat or strongly in favour…

But the ARENA-commissioned (and funded) Ipsos report also found that community backing of large-scale solar projects was often dependent on clear communication from project stakeholders.

It also found that while a clear majority supported the development of big solar in Australia, almost one in five (19 per cent) Australians neither agreed nor disagreed with this view, or just didn’t know.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.58.29 pm

Similarly, while just under two thirds (63 per cent) of those surveyed agreed that large-scale solar could provide a consistent supply of electricity, more than a quarter (28 per cent) neither agreed or disagreed, or didn’t know.

This revealed a gap in the knowledge of many Australians that Ipsos said had the potential to be “a fertile breeding ground” for anti-solar theories, such as the inefficiency of the solar production process.

“Details of any potential employment opportunities, project timelines and information about the area of land required to establish a large scale solar energy facility are also important factors in establishing community support,” said Ipsos Research Director Jennifer Brook.

“Early and ongoing opportunities for consultation and engagement with local communities about proposed large-scale solar projects is vital to ensuring communities fully support these projects,” she said.

Based on these findings, Ipsos has produced best practice community consultation guidelines for proposed large-scale solar projects.

Ivor Frischknecht – the CEO of ARENA, which contributed $153,000 towards the report – said the findings would be an invaluable resource for establishing and maintaining community support to operate solar projects in Australia.

“The results show Australians strongly support renewable energy and demonstrate the importance of involving and consulting locals,” he said.

“Key industry participants have welcomed the best practice guidelines, which can help the solar industry more effectively communicate the economic, environmental and social benefits of solar projects to nearby communities.  

RenewEconomy Free Daily Newsletter

Share this:

  • Jacob

    We should try geothermal.

    In Iceland the wholesale price of electricity is U$0.04/kwh for the next 12 years.

    Such low prices in AUS would be a boon for smelting aluminium here.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Iceland also has volcanoes. How much volcanic activity does Australia have?

      • Jacob

        None. But AUS is massive. Try finding hot rocks here.

        Or build a HVDC line from NZ to AUS.

        The distance from Auckland to SYD is 2200km. The transmission loss for HVDC is 3.5% per 1000km.

        The cost of geothermal electricity is NZ$0.08.

        • Coley

          You could build some pretty big solar farms in your outback?

          • Jacob

            Yeah true. The cost of storing electrons in large batteries today is probably less than 5c/kwh.

            Cost of electricity from solar PV will crash to 4c/kwh soon hopefully.

          • Coley

            And as you mentioned, HDVC can take the cheap electricity to anywhere in Australia.