Energize Stur Valley recently carried out a survey of North Dorset residents on their views on renewable energy. Enthusiasts on the subject that we are, even we were surprised at just how positive they all are about renewable energy.
Some 90% of people questioned felt positive towards renewable energy projects, and 90% also felt that Dorset should generate more if its own electricity, since it currently generates a tiny 0.0001% of the electricity that it uses.
The most popular idea for generating renewable energy was photovoltaic panels on industrial and agricultural buildings, with 93% of those questioned in favour. These are frequently very suitable for PV owing to their large roof areas that are not overshadowed, as long as they face south.
Also extremely popular was the idea of putting PV panels on the roofs of public buildings, such as schools, with 90% in favour. Again, these buildings tend to have large, accessible roof areas. PV panels at ground level were far less popular, with only 52% in favour, it being often remarked that it is better to grow food in fields where possible.
The latest large wind turbines are by far the most efficient way to generate electricity in our climate. However, they do have a significant impact on the landscape, and not everyone considers them things of beauty. This was reflected in the survey, with 48% in favour of the large wind turbines and 59% in favour of the smaller 20-metre-high models.
Both hydropower and anaerobic digesters were highly popular, both with 86% in favour. Anaerobic digesters can be a good option on farms producing animal waste, such as indoor poultry and pig units. They can also use collected food waste from catering outlets and food processing businesses.
Finally, 65% of those questioned thought that it was a good idea to set up community investment funds, whereby local people can invest in local renewable energy projects with a relatively small investment, thereby keeping the income generated within the community. We have taken this on board, and are looking into how this can be done.
The survey gave a fascinating insight into what North Dorset people really think about renewable energy, and we plan to repeat it in the future to see how views change as renewable energy projects come into production. Watch this space!
There is still just about time to get new PV projects installed before the Feed in Tariff goes down in October 2012 – find out more on our webpage: https://www.letsgetenergized.co.uk/energy/solar-energy