OECD Observer
Renewable electricity bills

How willing are you to pay more for renewable energy? Judging by a survey we previewed in 2010 (see here for instance) and whose results have now been published, the answer is: not that much. Greening Household Behaviour shows that while people may change their habits if given the right incentives and information, they are not quite as ready to dip deeply into their pockets.

Policymakers the world over have introduced a range of initiatives to encourage the take-up of renewable energy, including providing grants to firms and households for installing appliances. But while this latest survey shows that the general public attitude towards the environment (awareness, membership of environmental organisations, etc.) strongly influences demand for renewable energy, so does the price.

True, respondents paying charges are more likely to save energy, the survey confirms, whether by adopting behaviour such as turning off lights or investing in more efficient appliances. But the survey also shows that almost half of all respondents are simply not willing to pay too much more to use green energy. Over 45% of households said they are not willing to pay any premium to use renewable energy; and in a few countries, only a quarter of respondents say they would pay more than 5% above their current electricity bill to use green energy. Very few respondents said they would pay over 30% more. The survey–which was conducted before recent nuclear incidents following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan–enters another round in 2011 (browse at www.oecdbookshop.org).

See also “Saving energy” in OECD Observer No 276-77 2010

©OECD Observer No 284, Q1 2011