Australia’s increased interest in renewable energy sources may not be due to the public’s interest in saving the environment, but rather in saving themselves.
Although Australia has made significant leaps forward in the renewable energy sector, with many wind and solar projects in the works and several more confirmed for 2018, further development of renewable energy sources may not be due to the nation’s interest in saving the environment.
Some recent research found most Australians would be motivated to install rooftop solar panels to save money on their power bills (60.5%), with just 38.2% respondents stating environmental reasons.
Does this study reflect how the nation feels about saving the environment and has the public’s perception changed over time?
When we take a look at the data collected in the past decade or so about the public’s perception towards climate change, we can gather a greater insight into how the nation feels about global warming, whether or not it’s a real problem and if it’s something that should be addressed more seriously by government.
In 2006, nearly 70% of Australians believed global warming was a serious problem that needed to be addressed even it if required significant costs. This number fell to 40% in 2012, before recovering to just over 50% in 2016. Research by the Climate Institute seems to back this trend, with the percentage of respondents who think climate change is occurring steadily increasing to 77% in 2016 from 64% in 2012.
That younger respondents were more likely motivated by environmental reasons may indicate attitudes are changing as the public becomes more aware of how traditional energy sources impact the environment.
Consumers appear to be more interested in saving money than saving the environment when it comes to installing rooftop solar panels, a sector which has enjoyed significant growth in the last couple of years.
However, when taking a closer look at the results, the survey found that younger respondents were more likely to be motivated by environmental reasons. This may indicate that attitudes towards renewable energy sources are changing as the public becomes more aware of how traditional energy sources, such as gas and coal, impact the environment.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that public discussion has developed in recent years, focusing more on energy security following dramatic transformation within the energy sector. Not only are renewables on the rise and battery storage technologies becoming increasingly important, but we have also seen steep increases in gas prices, sudden closures of coal stations and electricity blackouts.
This appears to be backed by last year’s Lowy Institute poll, which found that an overwhelming 81% of respondents want governments to focus on renewable energy sources to ensure grid reliability, even if this comes at a greater cost.
It’s no longer just about saving the environment. The conversations being had are multifaceted and far more complicated than ever before. Although many Australians are motivated by saving money when it comes to investing in solar power for their homes, it doesn’t mean they’re not concerned about climate change and its impact on the environment.