April 19, 2012 / 1:31 PM / in 5 years

Majority in UK accept wind turbines on landscape-poll

4 Min Read

* Two thirds of respondents favour wind power

* Majority says look of wind turbines acceptable

* Vocal minority still an obstacle for expansion

April 19 (Reuters) - A majority of British people accept the look of wind turbines on the landscape and around two thirds favour wind power as an energy source, a sample of over 1,000 adults surveyed across the United Kingdom showed.

Onshore wind is the least costly source of low-carbon energy, but a minority opposed to the look of turbines has slowed its development and raises costs for the UK to achieve its climate targets, a spokesman for RenewableUK said.

"Opposition to wind farms is the reserve of a relatively very small, but a very noisy and vociferous minority that is causing more difficulties at a local level," said Adam Bell of the wind and marine power lobby group, which had commissioned market research group Ipsos MORI to conduct the survey.

"What this poll shows is that there is a silent majority in favour of wind power and a silent majority that (accepts) the look of wind turbines," he said, noting a number of onshore wind farm projects have been facing difficulties in getting approval.

In the online survey, respondents aged 16-64 were asked to rate the level of acceptability of the look of wind farms on the landscape on a 10 point scale ranging from completely unacceptable (1) to completely acceptable (10).

Fifty-seven percent of the 1,009 respondents gave a score between seven and 10, while one in six gave scores between one and four. Two in 10 were neutral, while 4 percent did not know.

The survey results were similar to a renewable energy survey carried out late last year by online research firm YouGov, suggesting opposition to wind is often localised to particular projects and does not reflect wider public opinion.

The UK has one of the most ambitious climate targets in the world, with a 2050 goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels. It has set legally binding targets for four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets.

Britain also has a 2020 target to deliver 15 percent of the country's energy consumption from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, marine and biomass.

Data from the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) suggests installed onshore wind capacity could grow to 13 gigawatts by the end of the decade from just over 4 GW in operation today.

But the government may have to turn to other, more expensive renewable sources if the vocal minority opposed to the erection of more onshore turbines succeeds in blocking development.

"The less onshore wind you deploy, the more expensive technologies you will have to deploy instead which just increases the cost of going green," Bell said.

The cost of electricity generated from onshore wind ranges between 75-127 pounds ($120-$200) per megawatt hour (MWh), according to DECC, citing 2010 data.

By comparison, the cost of solar ranges between 202-380 pounds/MWh, offshore wind 149-191 pounds/MWh and dedicated biomass 127-165 pounds/MWh.

$1 = 0.6238 British pounds Reporting by Jeff Coelho; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford

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