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Australians back renewable transition, seeking transparency

A major new survey by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has revealed Australians’ attitudes towards the country’s transition to renewable energy.

The survey, which polled over 6700 people across all states and territories, found that most Australians support moving to an energy system that relies more heavily on renewables. Their top priorities for the energy transition were affordability, energy self-reliance, and emissions reductions.

“The survey showed that most Australians supported the energy transition, but opinions varied about the rate and extent of change,” Dr. Andrea Walton, the senior social scientist on the project said.

While nearly half (47 per cent) of respondents preferred a moderate paced transition, 40 per cent favoured a faster and more extensive change. Only 13 per cent wanted a slower transition.

The survey also explored attitudes towards specific renewable energy infrastructure, including solar farms, onshore and offshore wind farms, and transmission lines. Over 80 per cent of Australians said they would at least tolerate living within 10 km of these types of projects.

However, transmission lines were viewed less favorably, with 23 per cent of people rejecting living near them. Dr. Walton attributed this to people not always recognizing the important role of transmission in the renewable transition.

“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,” she said.

The key takeaway, according to the researchers, is that Australians want comprehensive and transparent information about renewable energy projects – their benefits, potential drawbacks, and impacts on local communities and the environment.

This information will be crucial as the country accelerates its shift to a low-carbon energy future.

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