The annual mood barometer on the energy transition
What do Austrians think about renewable energies? This is what the representative study “Renewable Energies in Austria” by WU Vienna, Klagenfurt University, Deloitte Austria and Wien Energie investigates every year. The survey of over 1,000 Austrians, conducted shortly before the start of the corona crisis, shows that even against the background of the omnipresent corona pandemic, the fight against climate change is not losing its relevance. Respondents’ approval of achieving climate targets remains high.
“The issue of climate protection has undoubtedly come to stay – even the Corona crisis has not changed that. Awareness of the effects of climate change remains strong. More than every second Austrian is already feeling the consequences of climate change. There was a significant increase here compared to the previous year’s survey,” says Nina Hampl, study author at the University of Klagenfurt.
Strong support for clear climate targets
The majority of respondents (more than 60%) support the federal government’s goals of covering total electricity consumption entirely from renewable energy sources by 2030 and being climate neutral by 2040. Compared to the previous year, the number of people who support a ban on the installation of new oil and gas heating systems has also increased from 44% to 52%. 62% want a photovoltaic obligation for new buildings.
“The survey results prove: Austrians are ready for the energy transition. Now the corresponding energy and climate policy measures must be put into practice,” emphasizes Gerhard Marterbauer, partner at Deloitte Austria.
Citizen participation on the rise
One point in particular stands out in the study: since 2017, interest in citizen participation for renewable energy projects has increased by half. 44% of the study participants can now imagine becoming active themselves and getting involved in citizen participations. There is also a clear interest in installing photovoltaic systems on one’s own house or apartment building: The proportion of those who say they plan to install a photovoltaic system within the next 12 to 24 months has increased by a total of 5 percentage points compared to summer 2020.
“The energy transition is a community project: it is becoming increasingly important for the population to take the initiative themselves when it comes to sustainability” emphasizes Michael Strebl, Managing Director of Wien Energie. “The number of people who have consciously looked into renewable energies has risen continuously in recent years. You can see a clear upward trend here – not only in the study, but also in practice.”
Great acceptance for renewable energies
Overall, acceptance for renewable energy projects is also very high at 73%. Compared to the last survey, however, a negative trend is emerging in one area: approval for the construction of wind turbines in (the vicinity of) one’s own community is declining. While there is hardly any decrease for photovoltaics and small hydropower, the acceptance of wind power decreases from 67% to 62%.
“Despite this downward trend, it is remarkable that high percentages of the population are quite willing to support truly drastic measures for more climate protection. For example, 38% of respondents even support the expansion of ground-mounted photovoltaics in previously untouched landscapes or in nature reserves,” explains Robert Sposato, study author at the University of Klagenfurt.
Interest in E-mobility remains high
According to the study, the trend towards electric cars is also continuing. For 43% of those surveyed, the purchase of an e-car is currently a possibility. The high level of interest in alternative forms of drive for individual transportation is thus undoubtedly present among the population. However, in addition to e-cars, the topic of hydrogen is gaining in popularity: at 60%, the majority of respondents believe that the automotive industry should focus more on hydrogen drives in its research. For battery electric drives, only 33% of respondents agree here.
“We see a clear demand for research in the field of alternative forms of propulsion,” analyzes Deloitte expert Gerhard Marterbauer. The survey also shows that restrictions and bans are also more widely accepted by respondents in favor of the environment. Marterbauer concludes: “30% of Austrians are now even in favor of a ban on diesel and gasoline cars. This makes it clear where the journey is headed in the future.”