CSIRO survey reveals public attitudes towards renewable energy transition

Australia's national science agency has released the results of surveying over 6,700 individuals across all states and territories on their views of the nation's transition towards renewable energy.

Renewable farm

Carried out between August and September 2023, the survey delved into public sentiments surrounding existing and proposed renewable infrastructure, including solar farms, wind farms, and transmission lines crucial for integrating renewable energy into the grid.

Dr. Andrea Walton, a senior social scientist involved in the project, highlighted the significance of the survey's scale in providing representative insights into public opinion.

“The value of such a large survey is we can report with a higher degree of certainty what a range of people think,” Dr Walton said.

“The survey showed that most Australians supported the energy transition, but opinions varied about the rate and extent of change."

"Many Australians held generally moderate attitudes towards living near renewable energy infrastructure," Dr. Walton explained, suggesting a widespread willingness to accept or tolerate such developments.

While solar farms garnered the highest level of acceptance, attitudes towards them saw a slight decline compared to previous years. Onshore wind farms also received significant support, with over 80% of respondents indicating a willingness to live near them. However, proposed offshore wind farms faced greater opposition, particularly from residents in affected regions.

Transmission lines emerged as a point of contention, with lower acceptance rates compared to other renewable energy infrastructure. Dr. Walton attributed this to a lack of recognition regarding their role in the energy transition.

The survey, conducted in partnership with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, underscored the importance of affordable energy, with 82% of respondents ranking it among their top three priorities. Additionally, it revealed a desire for transparent information on renewable energy projects, including their benefits and potential drawbacks.

In terms of geographic differences, responses were largely consistent between metropolitan and regional communities. However, individuals living in rural areas, especially those near existing or proposed renewable energy developments, expressed more negative sentiments towards the transition.

The findings of the CSIRO survey will inform policymakers, government agencies, and industry stakeholders in shaping Australia's renewable energy strategy.

Download the survey snapshot and survey reports from the CSIRO here.

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