Blog icon

22 April 2024 4 min read

Key points

  • We surveyed more than 6700 Australians to better understand attitudes towards the energy transition and living near large-scale renewable energy infrastructure.
  • The survey found Australians' top priority was more affordable energy for everyone, followed by increasing Australia’s energy self-reliance and reducing carbon emissions.
  • We found communities want comprehensive and transparent information on renewable energy infrastructure developments, including the benefits and potential drawbacks of projects.

Australia is transitioning to a low carbon energy system to mitigate climate change. The decarbonisation of our energy system is transforming the way electricity is generated, transmitted, stored, exported, and used.  

You can see the roll out of large-scale infrastructure happening across Australia in the solar farms, turbines of onshore wind farms, and transmission lines. You can hear about it in the media reporting on infrastructure proposals, construction, and the community responses.  

But what do Australians think about this transformational change?

Renewing knowledge for the renewable energy transition  

We conducted the most comprehensive survey to-date of Australian attitudes to the renewable energy transition. We surveyed more than 6700 people across all states and territories living in capital cities and regional communities.  

We asked 150 questions to better understand Australian attitudes to the energy transition and public perceptions about living near large-scale renewable energy infrastructure. We asked people about four types of renewable energy infrastructure: solar farms, onshore and offshore wind farms, and the associated transmission lines needed to carry renewable energy to the electricity grid. 

Most Australians reported being interested in the energy transition. But many said they had little or limited knowledge about large-scale renewable infrastructure.  

Here’s a snapshot of the key findings: Understanding Australian attitudes to the renewable energy transition and renewable energy developments - Snapshot PDF (1 MB)

Renewed understanding for future initiatives  

Having a better understanding of Australian attitudes and perceptions of the energy transition and large-scale renewable energy infrastructure will help inform and improve planning. This will enable effective programs and initiatives undertaken by government, industry and communities as part of the energy transition.  

Senior social scientist on the project, Dr Andrea Walton, said the survey was developed to ensure views were representative and included people with experience living near existing or proposed renewable energy developments.   

"The value of such a large survey is we can report with a higher degree of certainty what a range of people think," Andrea said.   

"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." 

Australians are open to change, but differ on degree 

The survey found most Australians are open to change, but views varied on the speed and extent of the energy transition. Survey participants were asked to respond to a hypothetical scenario. Out of three potential scenarios for the future, 87 per cent of people chose a moderate to high change future.  

Views differed on the speed and extent of the transition. Almost half (47 per cent) preferred a moderately paced transition scenario compared to a faster change (40 per cent). A low change scenario was preferred by 13 per cent of people. Most people were unwilling to pay more or risk blackouts for a faster transition.

Affordability is top concern in energy transition

Affordability was the top priority for 41 per cent of Australians, with most people (82%) ranking it in their top three priorities. Reducing Australia’s carbon emissions, to respond to global climate change, was the top priority for 26 per cent of Australians.

People’s ranking of energy transition priorities.
People's ranking of energy transition priorities shows affordablilty is the main concern.

Other priorities in people’s top three were increasing Australia’s energy self-reliance (71 per cent), reducing carbon emissions (56 per cent), and minimising power outages (52 per cent).  

To achieve the energy transition, most Australians disagreed with the idea of paying more for electricity (64%), gas (62%), or risking more electricity blackouts (58%). People were a little more receptive to shifting their household electricity use to non-peak times of the day.  

People’s ranking of renewable energy transition priorities from first to fifth priority.

Regional differences to energy infrastructure 

Andrea said more research is needed to understand different geographic contexts like living out of town in regional areas and living near existing energy infrastructure. 

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

"This makes sense because people living out of town are more likely to be living near current or proposed developments,” Andrea said.  

"Transmission lines were seen less favourably compared to other renewable energy infrastructure. The survey revealed an important reason for this was that people didn’t always recognise the role of additional transmission lines in the renewable energy 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."

The survey showed communities want comprehensive and transparent information on renewable energy infrastructure developments, covering benefits and any potential drawbacks of projects. This included impacts on the local environment, communities and individuals. 

Contact us

Find out how we can help you and your business. Get in touch using the form below and our experts will get in contact soon!

CSIRO will handle your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and our Privacy Policy.

First name must be filled in

Surname must be filled in

I am representing *

Please choose an option

Please provide a subject for the enquriy

0 / 100

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer

0 / 1900

You shouldn't be able to see this field. Please try again and leave the field blank.