90% of Americans Still Support Solar, Despite Attempts to Weaken Public Perception

Nearly 9 of 10 Americans – 89% – support the solar industry – and they want the federal government to continue investing in  it, even after attempts to weaken public perception via attacks on the the Dept of Energy’s support for now-bankrupt Solyndra.  

For the fourth consecutive year, 89% of Americans – 80% of Republicans, 90% of Independents and 94% of Democrats – say they think it’s important for the US to develop and use solar energy, according to the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted annually by independent polling firm Kelton Research.

The highly publicized Solyndra bankruptcy only moved the numbers down slightly, from 94% in previous polls to this years result of 89% percent.

And 82% think it’s important for the federal government to support U.S. solar manufacturing, and a majority of Independent voters (51%) think it is "extremely important."

When asked which source of energy should get government support, solar remains most popular at 39%, down from the previous 45% in 2010. 21% of respondents said natural gas should be supported, and only 12% were in favor of support for wind (down from 19%), nuclear (9%) and coal (3%).

82% of Americans want federal incentives for the solar industry in the form of federal tax credits and grants, similar to those that traditional sources of energy like oil, natural gas and coal have received for decades. 71% of Republicans agree, as well as 82% of Independents and 87% of Democrats. 

"In this tough economy, Americans want to see solutions coming from Washington," says Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association CEO. "For members of Congress trying to find ways to create jobs, solar is a win-win. Thanks in part to proven policy successes like the 1603 Treasury Program, the solar industry doubled its workforce in the last two years and now employs more than 100,000 Americans at 5,000 businesses spanning every state."

Americans also want to buy products made using solar energy. 51% say they’d be more likely to purchase a product if they knew it was made using solar energy. 61% of 18-44 year-olds say that.

Despite the cost of solar modules decreasing by 30% since the beginning of 2010 and residential solar leasing models that allow people to go solar with no upfront cost, 48% cite cost as their biggest concern with choosing solar energy.

"For the fourth year in a row, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree on the importance of solar power," said Rachel Bonsignore, Associate Director, Kelton Research. "This year’s survey continues the trend of remarkably consistent support for solar."

Other recent poll:

Public Opinion Strategies/FM3 poll on voter awareness of Solyndra and its implications on the clean energy debate (Sept. 26, 2011).

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