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Consumer support for wind and solar energy fell in 2012


May 14, 2013 – According to a recent survey by Navigant Research, consumer support for solar and wind energy, though still high, has fallen steadily over the last three years. Favorable impressions of solar energy fell from 77% in 2011 to 69% in 2012, the survey found, while wind energy suffered a smaller drop, from 71% to 69%.

“Since 2009, there have been steady declines in favorability for some clean energy concepts, particularly the areas that have traditionally enjoyed strong consumer support such as solar energy, wind energy, hybrid vehicles, and electric cars,” said Clint Wheelock, managing director with Navigant Research. “Overall, support for clean energy concepts in our tracking survey held fairly steady from 2011 to 2012, but the decline for solar energy in particular was significant.”

The survey results are summarized in a free white paper, which is available for download on Navigant’s website.

The average favorability responses for the 13 energy and environmental concepts below have also declined over the past few years, from 50% in 2009 to 42% in 2012, although that figure remained essentially unchanged from 2011. Cap and trade received the fewest favorable responses, with only 15%.

Favorable responses for clean coal, natural gas vehicles, nuclear power, biofuels and six other concepts were unchanged year-over-year. In 2012, only three of the 13 concepts received overall favorable responses: solar energy, wind energy and hybrid vehicles. Support for electric cars dropped below 50% for the first time since the survey was initiated in 2009.

The percentages of survey respondents stating that they had either a “very favour able” or “favorable” view for each of the 13 concepts in 2012 were as follows:

• Solar Energy: 69%
• Wind Energy: 66%
• Hybrid Vehicles: 61%
• Electric Cars: 49%
• Natural Gas Cars: 49%
• Clean Coal: 42%
• Nuclear Power: 41%
• Biofuels: 39%
• Smart Meters: 39%
• Smart Grid: 36%
• Carbon Offsets/Credits: 21%
• LEED Certification: 20%
• Cap and Trade: 15%

The results in this white paper are based on a web-based survey of 1001 consumers conducted by Navigant Research in the fall of 2012 using a structured online questionnaire.