People Like Renewable Energy...But Not Paying For It

Posted on by Steve Stillwater

At first glance, a Financial Times/Harris poll taken in late last year in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom confirmed strong support for renewable energy. The most favored form of renewable energy was windmills. The problem is the poll also showed that no one wants to pay more for renewable energy. Significant majorities in all six countries favored building more wind farms. The poll was not even close. An amazing 90% in Spain and 87% in the U.S. favored wind-generated electricity. All other counties polled at least 77% support. Biofuels were also supported strongly. Subsidies to support the development of biofuels were favored by 77% of respondents in Italy, 76% in Spain and 60% in the U.S. Ah, but the rub comes when respondents were asked to pay for these green energy alternatives. When asked how much more they would be willing to pay for renewable energy, most respondents said either no more or only 5% more. Less than a third were willing to pay more than a 5% premium. In France, only one-fifth were willing to pay more than 5% more than what they were paying now. Such a strong lack of pocketbook support will not enable a rapid transformation from fossil fuels to renewables. Bottom-line: Everyone still wants a free lunch.