U.S. residents overwhelmingly support the use of solar energy and federal investments for solar, according to the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer, 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%) think it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar energy. Support for solar is strong across the political spectrum, with 80% of Republicans, 90% of Independents and 94% of Democrats agreeing that it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar.
The survey also found that Americans want federal incentives for solar power. More than eight out of 10 Americans (82%) support federal tax credits and grants for the solar market – similar to those that traditional sources of energy like oil, natural gas and coal have received for decades.
Furthermore, when asked to select an energy source they would financially support if they were in charge of U.S. energy policy, 39% of Americans chose solar over other sources, such as natural gas (21%), wind (12%), nuclear (9%) and coal (3%). Among Independents, solar is more than twice as popular as any other energy source (43% for solar compared to 20% for natural gas).
Despite extensive news coverage about the bankruptcy of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, the survey shows that the vast majority of Americans support solar manufacturing in the U.S. Eight out of 10 (82%) think it is important for the federal government to support U.S. solar manufacturing, and a majority of Independent voters (51%) think it is ‘extremely important.’
The poll also found that a majority (51%) would be more likely to purchase a product if they knew it was made using solar energy. Consumers in the key age demographic of 18 to 44 years old are even more likely to buy such products (61%).Â
One challenge that the industry faces is educating the public about how they can become consumers of solar power. Although the cost of solar modules has decreased by 30% since the beginning of 2010 and many residential solar leasing models that allow consumers to install solar with no upfront cost, 48% of Americans cited cost as their biggest concern with choosing solar energy.
Additional survey findings are available here.