By Kari Williamson
The findings come from 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 9 out of 10 Americans (89%) 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% of Republicans, 90% of Independents and 94% of Democrats agreeing that it is important for the United States to develop and use solar.
Furthermore, 82% 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.
When asked to select an energy source they would financially support if they were in charge of US energy policy, 39% of Americans chose solar over other sources such as natural gas (21%), wind (12%), nuclear (9%) and coal (3%)
“In this tough economy, Americans want to see solutions coming from Washington,” says Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
“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 US policymakers in extending job-creating policies like the 1603 program to make sure solar continues to work for America.”
Favouring solar-made products
The poll found that Americans prefer to buy solar-made products. Just over half said they 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 solar-made products (61%).
“The fourth annual Solar Barometer shows that Americans overwhelmingly understand the benefits of solar energy for our country,” adds Tom Hecht, President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development, SCHOTT Solar PV, Inc.
“However, this poll also indicates that we as an industry have more work ahead of us to educate Americans about the benefits of solar for them as individuals. Prices for solar continue to decline and those who currently own solar systems are earning a return on their investment after only a few years. Solar energy systems are also extremely reliable, which is why companies like SCHOTT Solar back their modules with warranties of up to 25 years.”