Finally, America agrees that something good for the environment is also good for the economy. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released a new poll this week, which showed that a high percentage of Americans agree solar power is a pretty good deal all around. 74% of those polled saw solar power as not only clean and green, but also as helping to produce jobs and bolster the economy. In fact, it was seen as the energy source most deserving of U.S. government support.
The technology behind solar heating and cooling has a number of variations, detailed in this fantastic post by CleanTechnica writer Breath on the Wind, depending on materials used for construction and what the consumer wants the panels to produce (heat or electricity).
If you’re an American with a solar water heating system, you’re one of a cool 1.5 million. If you installed it last year (for the home, or for a pool), you’re one of over 65,000, according to SEIA – well done! Aside from helping Americans live greener, the U.S. solar industry is also one of the nation’s net global exporters (which we could possibly consider a moral high point, yes?).
Monique Hanis, a SEIA spokesperson, says the poll only tells her what she already knew – but that the industry also needs to continue educating customers on the benefits of solar power. Specifically, of course, that solar power is cheap and reliable. (The sun’s not going anywhere, right? And if it does, we’ve all got bigger problems than our electric bill.)
A manufacturing company in Milwaukee, WI – Caleffi North America Inc. – has chimed in with empirical evidence that the solar industry is helping small businesses and therefore the American economy. “We added several employees, nearly doubling our size since 2006,” said Rex Gillespie, Director of Marketing.
Key Survey Findings
- Three out of four (74 percent) Americans agree, “the growth of the solar water heating industry will produce jobs and help the American economy.”
- 80 percent of Northeastern residents, 78 percent of Midwestern residents, 69 percent of Southern residents, and 73 percent of Western residents agree with this statement.
- 65 percent of self-identified Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 83 percent of Democrats agree with this statement.
- Positive perceptions of “solar water heating systems” exceed negative perceptions by more than 10 to 1 (48 percent to 4 percent).
- Solar energy is now considered to be the energy source most deserving of U.S. government support – outdistancing natural gas, oil, nuclear, and even wind energy.
- 63 percent of Americans believe solar energy can be used to heat water, heat buildings, cool buildings, heat swimming pools, and produce electricity.
- 46 percent say they would either be “extremely likely” (6 percent), “very likely” (9 percent), or “somewhat likely” (31 percent) to consider installing a solar water heating system in their own home.
- “The cost of purchasing the system” (72 percent) and “the cost of maintaining the system” (56 percent) are the top two concerns for residents in all regions and across key demographic/partisan groups.
The findings of the survey are based on polling conducted from June 23 – 26, 2011, among a representative sample of 1,013 U.S. adults, age 18+. The margin of error on the total sample of 1,013 is +/- 3.1 percent. Survey was conducted independently by Gotham Research based in New York.
Let us know what you think about solar power – support or oppose! – in the comments, below.
Charis Michelsen spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissin, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.