Most Australians don’t want speedy transition toward clean energy

The Hornsdale Power Reserve, a 150 MW grid-connected energy storage system owned by Neoen co-located with the Hornsdale Wind Farm in the Mid North region of South Australia. (Reference image by David Clarke, Flickr.)

Most Australians support the country’s transition towards a clean energy power grid but don’t want aggressive change. 

A recent survey conducted by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, found that most people in the country support a move towards an energy system that relies more on renewables but 47% prefer a moderate-paced and 13% a slow-paced transition scenario. Faster and more extensive change was the choice for 40% of respondents.

In terms of priorities, 82% of surveyed Australians listed energy affordability among their top three concerns, whether or not they were struggling to pay bills. 

Most Australians don’t want speedy transition toward clean energy
(Source: CSIRO).

Looking at the type of clean energy projects they would support, 88% of people said they would tolerate living near a solar farm. This shows an attitude change compared to a similar poll conducted in 2020 when 95% of respondents would agree to reside close to solar infrastructure. 

When it comes to wind power, more than 80% of respondents said they would at least tolerate living near a wind farm. However, those living in proposed offshore wind farm regions were more likely to reject living near them. 

Acceptance of living near associated transmission lines was lower than other forms of renewable energy infrastructure, with 23% of people rejecting it and 77% at least tolerating it.  

The study was conducted in all states and territories, across capital cities and regional areas, between August and September 2023, and over 6,700 people were surveyed. 

Overall, responses were similar between metropolitan and regional communities. However, people living out of town in regional areas were more negative towards the transition. 

“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, suggesting a broad willingness to support, or at least tolerate, the development of solar farms, onshore and offshore wind farms, and associated transmission line infrastructure,” senior social scientist on the project, Andrea Walton, said in a media statement.

“What this survey indicates is that when people believe that a piece of infrastructure has an important role in the energy transition, they’re much more likely to accept it.”