Public in favour of renewables in the community

New survey finds widespread support for waste-to-energy and district heating projects

Developers proposing community scale renewable energy projects can expect to enjoy significant public support, according to new research to be released later today by the UK's Green Building Council (GBC).

The survey of over 1,000 adults was undertaken by research firm Icaro Consulting on behalf of the GBC and the government-backed Zero Carbon Hub body, which is responsible for delivering on the UK's zero carbon building strategy.

It found that contrary to popular belief that people are likely to oppose the development of community scale renewable energy projects, there is widespread support for green technologies such as district heating, shared water networks, vacuum pipe waste systems, and waste-to-energy plants.

The survey revealed that 71 per cent of people were in favour of district heating systems where neighbourhoods are heated through a linked network of pipes, while almost 90 per cent were in favour of sustainable water networks that use filtered rainwater to flush toilets and water gardens.

Meanwhile, 87 per cent supported proposals to use waste to generate energy for a community, despite a number high-profile campaigns to oppose the wide adoption of waste-to-energy plants.

"This research puts a nail in the coffin of the perception that consumers won't like community-scale green schemes, such as district heating and waste-to-energy plants," observed Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council (GBC). "There are significant environmental and financial benefits to providing such integrated infrastructure at a community scale, reducing both carbon emissions and energy bills."

The GBC and the Zero Carbon Hub have brought together a working group which is expected to report in January, providing a series of recommendations on how to accelerate the roll out of community-scale renewable energy projects.

Marco Marijewycz, a member of the working group from energy giant E.ON, said the new research highlighted the need for energy firms and local authorities to co-operate in the development of community-scale projects.

"We now see that with just a little explanation, heat networks are seen to deliver cost and environmental benefits, especially where local authorities work in partnership with energy experts in the private sector," he said. "The local authorities help guarantee a customer base for heat, making the schemes viable on a larger scale, which maximises carbon bangs for buck."

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