Public support is no guarantee of growth

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Richard Heap
September 2, 2016
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Public support is no guarantee of growth

The rise of Donald Trump as a potential US president shows there is a groundswell of support from those who want to, as the slogan goes, ‘Make America Great Again!’.

And with so many people in the US keen to go back to how they imagine the country once was then we could reasonably expect this to show itself in energy policy. This could mean we are on the cusp of an uprising for big oil against sources like wind.

But, according to the American Wind Energy Association, this is not happening. The association this week published information that it says shows that support for wind has grown in line with total installed capacity, which has just passed 75GW.

It says that 70% of registered voters have a favourable impression of wind =, based on a poll of 1,000 people from across the political spectrum, including 60% of Republicans and independents.

This follows a poll in July of likely voters in Iowa’s Third Congressional District, which was conducted on behalf of advocacy group American Wind Action, that showed that 91% of respondents supported wind energy.

Iowa’s Third District is one of the top 20 in the US ranked by total wind capacity. AWEA’s conclusion from these polls is clear: “The more Americans get to know wind power, the more they like it.”

The first thing we should say about these results is to give a usual caveat on polling. Results like this can change dramatically depending on how the questions are asked and the interests of the people commissioning the data. We need to be sceptical.

That said, we can be pretty confident that these results are a reflection of reality.

We need only compare them to statistics gathered in the UK by the now-disbanded Department of Energy & Climate Change. DECC said in the April edition of its Public Attitudes survey that 69% of the British public supported onshore wind, 76% offshore wind and 84% solar. AWEA’s statistics are supported by government-backed studies in other nations – even in the UK, which has been cutting support for onshore wind.

There are good reasons for people to be positive. The levelized cost of wind power in the US is continuing to fall – a 61% reduction in the last six years – which means that new schemes can compete more fiercely with other energy sources.

This helps to push down electricity prices for businesses and consumers; and enables the wind sector to support 88,000 jobs in the US while also boosting the nation’s tax base.

And the excitement over the first US offshore wind farm, the 30MW Block Island that completed last month, has highlighted how people including current US president Barack Obama want to support the growth of this industry. That support is great.

However, the industry cannot assume that public support will automatically translate into further growth.

Most people in the UK support wind power, but it has not stopped the government cutting subsidies. If Trump or Hillary Clinton are to continue backing for the wind sector then a strong business case is even more important than public support.

This means that, despite AWEA’s findings, the focus from wind investors must stay the same: to keep investing in the schemes and research that drives down the cost of wind. Political support for wind will only endure if there is a strong business case.

Public support is important, of course. Developers won't get very far without it. But all the public support in the world will make little impact with politicians unless the financials also make sense.

With a strong business case, even Trump might get behind wind.

The rise of Donald Trump as a potential US president shows there is a groundswell of support from those who want to, as the slogan goes, ‘Make America Great Again!’.

And with so many people in the US keen to go back to how they imagine the country once was then we could reasonably expect this to show itself in energy policy. This could mean we are on the cusp of an uprising for big oil against sources like wind.

But, according to the American Wind Energy Association, this is not happening. The association this week published information that it says shows that support for wind has grown in line with total installed capacity, which has just passed 75GW.

It says that 70% of registered voters have a favourable impression of wind =, based on a poll of 1,000 people from across the political spectrum, including 60% of Republicans and independents.

This follows a poll in July of likely voters in Iowa’s Third Congressional District, which was conducted on behalf of advocacy group American Wind Action, that showed that 91% of respondents supported wind energy.

Iowa’s Third District is one of the top 20 in the US ranked by total wind capacity. AWEA’s conclusion from these polls is clear: “The more Americans get to know wind power, the more they like it.”

The first thing we should say about these results is to give a usual caveat on polling. Results like this can change dramatically depending on how the questions are asked and the interests of the people commissioning the data. We need to be sceptical.

That said, we can be pretty confident that these results are a reflection of reality.

We need only compare them to statistics gathered in the UK by the now-disbanded Department of Energy & Climate Change. DECC said in the April edition of its Public Attitudes survey that 69% of the British public supported onshore wind, 76% offshore wind and 84% solar. AWEA’s statistics are supported by government-backed studies in other nations – even in the UK, which has been cutting support for onshore wind.

There are good reasons for people to be positive. The levelized cost of wind power in the US is continuing to fall – a 61% reduction in the last six years – which means that new schemes can compete more fiercely with other energy sources.

This helps to push down electricity prices for businesses and consumers; and enables the wind sector to support 88,000 jobs in the US while also boosting the nation’s tax base.

And the excitement over the first US offshore wind farm, the 30MW Block Island that completed last month, has highlighted how people including current US president Barack Obama want to support the growth of this industry. That support is great.

However, the industry cannot assume that public support will automatically translate into further growth.

Most people in the UK support wind power, but it has not stopped the government cutting subsidies. If Trump or Hillary Clinton are to continue backing for the wind sector then a strong business case is even more important than public support.

This means that, despite AWEA’s findings, the focus from wind investors must stay the same: to keep investing in the schemes and research that drives down the cost of wind. Political support for wind will only endure if there is a strong business case.

Public support is important, of course. Developers won't get very far without it. But all the public support in the world will make little impact with politicians unless the financials also make sense.

With a strong business case, even Trump might get behind wind.

The rise of Donald Trump as a potential US president shows there is a groundswell of support from those who want to, as the slogan goes, ‘Make America Great Again!’.

And with so many people in the US keen to go back to how they imagine the country once was then we could reasonably expect this to show itself in energy policy. This could mean we are on the cusp of an uprising for big oil against sources like wind.

But, according to the American Wind Energy Association, this is not happening. The association this week published information that it says shows that support for wind has grown in line with total installed capacity, which has just passed 75GW.

It says that 70% of registered voters have a favourable impression of wind =, based on a poll of 1,000 people from across the political spectrum, including 60% of Republicans and independents.

This follows a poll in July of likely voters in Iowa’s Third Congressional District, which was conducted on behalf of advocacy group American Wind Action, that showed that 91% of respondents supported wind energy.

Iowa’s Third District is one of the top 20 in the US ranked by total wind capacity. AWEA’s conclusion from these polls is clear: “The more Americans get to know wind power, the more they like it.”

The first thing we should say about these results is to give a usual caveat on polling. Results like this can change dramatically depending on how the questions are asked and the interests of the people commissioning the data. We need to be sceptical.

That said, we can be pretty confident that these results are a reflection of reality.

We need only compare them to statistics gathered in the UK by the now-disbanded Department of Energy & Climate Change. DECC said in the April edition of its Public Attitudes survey that 69% of the British public supported onshore wind, 76% offshore wind and 84% solar. AWEA’s statistics are supported by government-backed studies in other nations – even in the UK, which has been cutting support for onshore wind.

There are good reasons for people to be positive. The levelized cost of wind power in the US is continuing to fall – a 61% reduction in the last six years – which means that new schemes can compete more fiercely with other energy sources.

This helps to push down electricity prices for businesses and consumers; and enables the wind sector to support 88,000 jobs in the US while also boosting the nation’s tax base.

And the excitement over the first US offshore wind farm, the 30MW Block Island that completed last month, has highlighted how people including current US president Barack Obama want to support the growth of this industry. That support is great.

However, the industry cannot assume that public support will automatically translate into further growth.

Most people in the UK support wind power, but it has not stopped the government cutting subsidies. If Trump or Hillary Clinton are to continue backing for the wind sector then a strong business case is even more important than public support.

This means that, despite AWEA’s findings, the focus from wind investors must stay the same: to keep investing in the schemes and research that drives down the cost of wind. Political support for wind will only endure if there is a strong business case.

Public support is important, of course. Developers won't get very far without it. But all the public support in the world will make little impact with politicians unless the financials also make sense.

With a strong business case, even Trump might get behind wind.

The rise of Donald Trump as a potential US president shows there is a groundswell of support from those who want to, as the slogan goes, ‘Make America Great Again!’.

And with so many people in the US keen to go back to how they imagine the country once was then we could reasonably expect this to show itself in energy policy. This could mean we are on the cusp of an uprising for big oil against sources like wind.

But, according to the American Wind Energy Association, this is not happening. The association this week published information that it says shows that support for wind has grown in line with total installed capacity, which has just passed 75GW.

It says that 70% of registered voters have a favourable impression of wind =, based on a poll of 1,000 people from across the political spectrum, including 60% of Republicans and independents.

This follows a poll in July of likely voters in Iowa’s Third Congressional District, which was conducted on behalf of advocacy group American Wind Action, that showed that 91% of respondents supported wind energy.

Iowa’s Third District is one of the top 20 in the US ranked by total wind capacity. AWEA’s conclusion from these polls is clear: “The more Americans get to know wind power, the more they like it.”

The first thing we should say about these results is to give a usual caveat on polling. Results like this can change dramatically depending on how the questions are asked and the interests of the people commissioning the data. We need to be sceptical.

That said, we can be pretty confident that these results are a reflection of reality.

We need only compare them to statistics gathered in the UK by the now-disbanded Department of Energy & Climate Change. DECC said in the April edition of its Public Attitudes survey that 69% of the British public supported onshore wind, 76% offshore wind and 84% solar. AWEA’s statistics are supported by government-backed studies in other nations – even in the UK, which has been cutting support for onshore wind.

There are good reasons for people to be positive. The levelized cost of wind power in the US is continuing to fall – a 61% reduction in the last six years – which means that new schemes can compete more fiercely with other energy sources.

This helps to push down electricity prices for businesses and consumers; and enables the wind sector to support 88,000 jobs in the US while also boosting the nation’s tax base.

And the excitement over the first US offshore wind farm, the 30MW Block Island that completed last month, has highlighted how people including current US president Barack Obama want to support the growth of this industry. That support is great.

However, the industry cannot assume that public support will automatically translate into further growth.

Most people in the UK support wind power, but it has not stopped the government cutting subsidies. If Trump or Hillary Clinton are to continue backing for the wind sector then a strong business case is even more important than public support.

This means that, despite AWEA’s findings, the focus from wind investors must stay the same: to keep investing in the schemes and research that drives down the cost of wind. Political support for wind will only endure if there is a strong business case.

Public support is important, of course. Developers won't get very far without it. But all the public support in the world will make little impact with politicians unless the financials also make sense.

With a strong business case, even Trump might get behind wind.

The rise of Donald Trump as a potential US president shows there is a groundswell of support from those who want to, as the slogan goes, ‘Make America Great Again!’.

And with so many people in the US keen to go back to how they imagine the country once was then we could reasonably expect this to show itself in energy policy. This could mean we are on the cusp of an uprising for big oil against sources like wind.

But, according to the American Wind Energy Association, this is not happening. The association this week published information that it says shows that support for wind has grown in line with total installed capacity, which has just passed 75GW.

It says that 70% of registered voters have a favourable impression of wind =, based on a poll of 1,000 people from across the political spectrum, including 60% of Republicans and independents.

This follows a poll in July of likely voters in Iowa’s Third Congressional District, which was conducted on behalf of advocacy group American Wind Action, that showed that 91% of respondents supported wind energy.

Iowa’s Third District is one of the top 20 in the US ranked by total wind capacity. AWEA’s conclusion from these polls is clear: “The more Americans get to know wind power, the more they like it.”

The first thing we should say about these results is to give a usual caveat on polling. Results like this can change dramatically depending on how the questions are asked and the interests of the people commissioning the data. We need to be sceptical.

That said, we can be pretty confident that these results are a reflection of reality.

We need only compare them to statistics gathered in the UK by the now-disbanded Department of Energy & Climate Change. DECC said in the April edition of its Public Attitudes survey that 69% of the British public supported onshore wind, 76% offshore wind and 84% solar. AWEA’s statistics are supported by government-backed studies in other nations – even in the UK, which has been cutting support for onshore wind.

There are good reasons for people to be positive. The levelized cost of wind power in the US is continuing to fall – a 61% reduction in the last six years – which means that new schemes can compete more fiercely with other energy sources.

This helps to push down electricity prices for businesses and consumers; and enables the wind sector to support 88,000 jobs in the US while also boosting the nation’s tax base.

And the excitement over the first US offshore wind farm, the 30MW Block Island that completed last month, has highlighted how people including current US president Barack Obama want to support the growth of this industry. That support is great.

However, the industry cannot assume that public support will automatically translate into further growth.

Most people in the UK support wind power, but it has not stopped the government cutting subsidies. If Trump or Hillary Clinton are to continue backing for the wind sector then a strong business case is even more important than public support.

This means that, despite AWEA’s findings, the focus from wind investors must stay the same: to keep investing in the schemes and research that drives down the cost of wind. Political support for wind will only endure if there is a strong business case.

Public support is important, of course. Developers won't get very far without it. But all the public support in the world will make little impact with politicians unless the financials also make sense.

With a strong business case, even Trump might get behind wind.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.