Clean Power Solar Power is Good for the Earth AND the Economy

Published on October 18th, 2011 | by Charis Michelsen


We Told You Solar Power Was Great — America Agrees (Poll)

October 18th, 2011 by  

Solar Power is Good for the Earth AND the EconomyFinally, 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.

Source: SEIA | Picture: Green-Buzz

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, 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.

  • it is really very appreciable job what you and your family done for Solar Thermal Water Heating thanks !!

  • Wildfire

    What I’m hearing is that the price of panels has plummeted in the last couple years because the Chinese are subsidizing their industry–and this is running US manufacturers out of business.
    I’m actually thinking about installing an electric water heater, though I’m as prosolar as you can get. Why? because we have an offgrid solar power system, and are content to use the water kept hot on the woodstove in the winter, but have been heating water in the summer with gas. Why spend a lot of money for a complicated system when we always have a surplus of power in the summer, that doesn’t go to the grid?

    • Bob_Wallace

      The main reasons that panel prices have fallen so much is first that the price of refined silicon has fallen tremendously. That’s because more plants came on line, existing plants weren’t able to charge premium prices.

      Second big reason is competition. A few years back the profit margin for panel manufacture was quite high and a lot of companies jumped in. That, and a slow down in installation due to the world-wide recession, created a supply glut with manufactures selling at close to cost in order to stay in business. Several manufacturers have not been able to survive the slowdown and have gone bankrupt, with their remaining stock being sold at a loss.

      China provides low cost financing for their plants. That helps them deliver at a price lower than what manufactures can meet if they are paying higher financing costs.

      The idea of powering an electric water heater with surplus solar-electric is interesting. I’m off the grid and I also have a lot of “unused electricity”. On sunny days my batteries are often full by 11am. Several hours of solar that isn’t used.

      I’ve been thinking that an EV/PHEV is the place for my extra. But I’m going to do the math on an electric water heater. My guess is that I have lots of days with an extra 4-5kWh of power.


      A quick look on the web says 15 – 17kWh per day for a water heater. The extra I have might somewhat pre-heat the water before it goes into my gas tankless….

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  • Shall we drill, shall we mine, import or what?

    It’s such a shame that money dictates most of our decisions. Had there been a logical way to control and charge for solar energy, we would be loaded down with it.
    In the early eighties my company installed over three hundred solar water heaters. I just knew that once people saw how good they worked, they would line up at the door to buy.
    I WAS WRONG but I truly love the energy God gave us. Is any source any more logical?

    Jim Lindsey

  • Anonymous

    Zac I think you are confused. Costs are dropping Tremendously.

    We write about these topics too 😀
    Utility company CEOs, even, have expressed their optimism that costs & efficiency will continue to improve and that long-term investment in solar today is actually a wise choice. They profess themselves that cost is what they care about. So, I think it’s worth listing to them:

  • Good write-up, I am regular visitor of one’s web site, maintain up the excellent operate, and It’s going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

    • Anonymous

      Great, thanks! 😀

  • Paul Felix Schott

    We Told You Solar Power Was Great — America

    I have been telling all that for over 20 years, Along with many other Scientist

    that have been doing just that a lot longer. It is are Local Government Leaders that are a little slow

    to learn about Solar Energy.

    All could have learned a thing or two from a Ambassador for Solar to the World.

    Monica a Young Lady that at 10 years of age had already started to ask her teachers and

    writing very many Government Leaders. Why are not our Schools, Libraries and Government Building

    covered with Solar Panels.

    Monica’s next 8 Years Would be spent Helping and doing Science Fair Projects on Solar Energy.

    Many would done at and with the help of The Florida Solar Energy Center.

    By the time she was in High School most all the Government Leaders in Her State and Even the

    President, knew This Good Will Ambassador to Solar Energy Monica D. Key Lindbergh.

    The Lord’s Little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott

    • Anonymous

      Thanks. Yeah, truthfully, the public has even known it for a long time (support for solar is above 90% year after year — it’s really just our politicians who have been the big laggards

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