Most Australians want renewables, says report

SOLAR and wind power are Australia's preferred energy sources, a report from the Australia Institute has found.

But the Queensland Resources Council believes a renewable-only future is unrealistic.

The report from the Australia Institute found 80% of people polled said solar and wind power were among their top three preferred power sources. Just 35% listed coal as a preferred energy source.

Report co-author University of Melbourne Social Justice Initiative director Dr Jeremy Moss said Australia was missing the opportunity to build a renewable industry.

"Australia has some of the best conditions in the world for renewable technologies," Dr Moss said.

"It is estimated that up to 60% of Australia's energy needs could be met with solar, and that wind power could provide an additional 40%."

But Queensland Resources Council chair Michael Roche said renewable energy could not provide enough power globally.

"The findings are consistent with an aspirational view in developed countries like Australia where energy to the home is taken for granted," he said.

"Unfortunately, there is no choice for 1.3 billion people without electricity and 2.7 billion who rely on animal dung and biomass for cooking."

Mr Roche said QRC was not against renewable energy but remained positive about coal's future.

"Renewable energy is on the rise, but the undisputed fact is that coal produces more than 40% of the world's electricity and is forecast to overtake oil as the globe's largest source of primary energy," he said.

Dr Moss said the widespread renewable support the poll found was in stark contrast to government views.

"The government may consider coal to be good for humanity, and wind turbines to a blight on the landscape but, in the bigger scheme of things, the community simply doesn't feel the same," he said.

"The health and environmental impacts of wind and solar are distinctly less than of coal and coal seam gas, and 80% of people recognise that already."