WASHINGTON – Americans overwhelmingly support the use and development of solar energy as well as federal investments for solar, according to a new national poll. These and other findings were reported today in the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted annually by independent polling firm Kelton Research.
For the fourth consecutive year, the survey found that about nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) think it is important for the United States to develop and use solar energy. Support for solar is strong across the political spectrum with 80 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Independents and 94 percent of Democrats agreeing that it is important for the United States to develop and use solar.
The survey also found that Americans want federal incentives for solar. More than eight out of 10 Americans (82 percent) support federal tax credits and grants for the solar industry similar to those that traditional sources of energy like oil, natural gas and coal have received for decades. Seventy-one percent of Republicans agree, as well as 82 percent of Independents and 87 percent of Democrats.
Furthermore, when asked to select an energy source they would financially support if they were in charge of U.S. energy policy, 39 percent of Americans chose solar over other sources such as natural gas (21 percent), wind (12 percent), nuclear (9 percent) and coal (3 percent). Among Independents, solar is more than twice as popular as any other energy source (43 percent for solar compared to 20 percent for natural gas).
“In this tough economy, Americans want to see solutions coming from Washington,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “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 has doubled its workforce in the last two years and now employs more than 100,000 Americans at 5,000 businesses spanning every state. And solar enjoys overwhelming support across all political affiliations – Republicans, Democrats and Independents. It’s clear that solar has the strong support of the American people. Now it needs the support of U.S. policymakers in extending job-creating policies like the 1603 program to make sure solar continues to work for America.”
One challenge that the solar industry faces is educating the public about how they can become consumers of solar power. Despite the cost of solar modules decreasing by 30 percent since the beginning of 2010 and residential solar leasing models that allow consumers to go solar with no upfront cost, 48 percent of Americans cited 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.”