US survey finds solar tops public’s energy list

The survey, which was conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Schott Solar and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), found that 89 percent of the at least 1,000 respondents believe it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power.

While the figures are down from previous years – in 2010, 94 percent showed their support for solar, in 2009, 92 percent and in 2008, 94 percent – the majority still think solar is a crucial energy component.

When asked "If you were in charge of U.S. energy policy and could choose to provide financial support in one of the following energy sources…", 16 percent of the respondents stated that the government should not invest in energy sources at all. However, representing the lion’s share, 39 percent chose solar over natural gas (21 percent), wind (12 percent), nuclear (nine percent) and coal (three percent).

Of the survey participants, 82 percent also stated that they would like to see federal incentives for solar, like federal tax credits and grants similar to those that traditional sources of energy receive.

Furthermore, it was identified that 82 percent of the survey participants feel that it is "vital" that the U.S. government support solar manufacturing in the country.

Fifty one percent also said they would be "more likely" to buy a product if they knew that it had been produced using solar energy. This is in comparison to the 41 percent who said they would be "about as likely", and the seven percent who said they would be "less likely".

The support for solar seems to be 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 country to develop and use solar.

While the findings are positive for the industry, the survey did identify several issues. For instance, 55 percent of the participants had concerns about solar’s cost, 29 percent about its reliability, 11 percent about the benefits, and four percent with the aesthetics.

In this tough economy, Americans want to see solutions coming from Washington," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. He added, "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."