After this month’s local elections, Rishi Sunak and the Conservative party are surely searching for campaign messaging that will resonate ahead of the upcoming general election. Perhaps they need look no further. New polling commissioned by Renewable UK has suggested strong public support for clean energy policies.

Popular policies

The polling by Opinium surveyed more than 10,000 people. It reveals high levels of support for renewables among voters who are concerned about tackling the cost of living crisis and securing the future economic prosperity of the UK.  75% said the development of renewable energy is a significant factor for the next government to consider in decisions about driving economic growth outside London and the south east of England, as well as in decisions about increasing jobs in the UK (83%), tackling climate change (81%), energy bills (88%) and energy security (84%).

Swing voters

These percentages are even higher among swing voters: for example, 83% of those intending to switch from Conservative to Labour cited regional economic growth from renewables as a significant factor, while 89% cited increasing jobs, 86% tackling climate change, 96% energy bills and 92% energy security. There is a growing awareness that the energy transition holds many of the answers to the biggest questions in voters’ minds right now. Ahead of the general election, the opportunities offered by clean energy transition are ticking people’s boxes for a broad range of reasons. The question is, will either party be bold enough to back the ambition that is so clearly a vote winner.

Requests for the government

The polling was included in Renewable UK’s new manifesto document. In it, the trade body argues that accelerating the energy transition should be a priority for the next government, and sets out five key actions to achieve this.

A coordinated plan to deliver pipeline

The first request is for a clear and coordinated plan for delivering the pipeline of renewable energy projects to ensure the UK can meet its net zero targets. This means as much long-term clarity on the future pipeline as possible. For example, currently there are targets for offshore wind, hydrogen and Scottish onshore wind, but only until 2030. Six years is not a long time when you’re planning and building major infrastructure projects like a wind farm or grid upgrades.

Attractive business environment

To mobilise private investment and attract investors, regulatory and market certainty is key. The manifesto calls for the Contracts for Difference regime to be modernised to enable consistent volumes of renewables capacity to be deployed year-on-year.  It also appeals for caution and care when it comes to the upcoming electricity market reforms.

Fit for purpose planning

To deploy renewable energy projects and the associated infrastructure, the planning and consenting regime has to be efficient and consistent across all four nations. Unblocking onshore wind in England would be a great place to start.

Scaling up skills and supply chain

To match the UK’s targets, the supply chains and skills capabilities need scaling up. The Industrial Growth Plan for offshore wind, published by Renewable UK last month, provides a blueprint for this. It includes the clearest assessment to date of how the UK can triple its manufacturing capacity in the next decade by investing in the most valuable parts of the supply chain for projects here and exports worldwide.

Forward planning and investment

The fifth recommendation looks at forward planning to unlock greater levels of investment into vital flexible technologies.  Enabling long duration energy storage and the co-location of battery storage alongside wind and solar farms now can ensure our future energy system is efficient, cheaper and secure.

As the election campaigning ramps up, we’re going to hear a lot of pledges from politicians looking to appeal to a broad range of voters. Loud promises to put us on the path to economic stability, new growth and ease the cost of living. In the background, clean energy is already quietly delivering a lot of what many voters are looking for.

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