A new Financial Times/Harris poll in the U.S. and the five largest European countries finds strong public support for increasing some renewable energy sources, particularly wind farms, provided that they are not asked to pay much more for it. However there is strong resistance to using more renewable energy if it leads to a substantial increase in costs. The public is much more evenly split on whether to build more nuclear power plants, except in Germany and Spain where substantial majorities oppose any expansion of nuclear power.
These are some of the findings of a Financial Times/Harris Poll conducted online by Harris Interactive® among 6,255 adults aged 16-64 within France (1,102), Germany (1,029), Great Britain (1,056), Spain (1,006), U.S. (1,002) and adults aged 18-64 in Italy (1,060) between September 15 and 21, 2010.
The main findings of this new poll include:
- Big majorities of the public in all six countries favor the building of more wind farms in their countries, varying from 90% in Spain and 87% in the U.S. to 77% in France. And large numbers of them favor it “strongly”;
- Majorities in all six countries, from 77% in Italy and 76% in Spain to 60% in the U.S. favor governments giving financial subsidies for the use of bio-fuels. However, only between 13% in Britain and 34% in Spain favor this “strongly”;
- Opinions on building more nuclear power plants are more mixed and vary by country. The public is more or less equally divided in the U.S., Britain and France but clear majorities are opposed in Italy (60%), Spain (63%) and even more strongly in Germany (77%);
- When those who pay energy bills were asked how much more they would be willing to pay for renewable energy, most people in all countries said either no more or only 5% more. Those willing to pay more than 5% varied from 32% in the U.S. and 31% in Italy to only 17% in Spain and 20% in France;
- When asked if they would be willing to pay $220 more each month — the amount estimated by the European Union as needed to cut greenhouse emissions and use more renewable energy — large majorities in all the countries except Italy said they would not pay — from 77% in France and 76% in Britain to 65% in Germany who said so.
These answers are broadly similar to the results of an earlier FT/Harris poll conducted in 2008 using the same questions. However support for nuclear power plants has decreased somewhat in both Italy and Germany, over the last 2 years.
This new poll confirms the conclusions from other Harris surveys: there is strong support for using more “clean” sources of renewable energy, such as wind farms, but little appetite for paying significantly more for it, and that the public is still very divided in most of these countries on whether or not to rely more on nuclear power.