Two recent polls show strong public support for renewable energy technologies and, in particulary, solar energy technolgies. A poll released on Earth Day by the wind energy industry suggests that 52 percent of American voters believe the US economy would be stronger if the country depended more on renewable energy resources. Thirty percent said the economy would be unchanged, and only 15 percent voted that the economy would be in worse shape.
According to a Northwestern University report, the poll reflects a general perception that investing in renewable energy can be a driving force in reviving the country's struggling manufacturing sector. Additionally, the poll found that 56 percent of Americans believe Congress is doing too little to bolster renewable energy in the United States. Only 29% of those surveyed said that the government's current involvement is adequate. The poll sampled 600 likely voters and was conducted through a bipartisan effort by Public Opinion Strategies and Bennett, Petts & Normington.
A second poll, released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in March, showed similar public backing for solar energy. The SEIA poll found that 75 percent of survey takers supported the installation of solar power plants on public land. Only 15 percent of the respondents opposed such installations.
The survey also revealed the sentiment that solar energy, along with wind energy, should be the top priority for government incentive programs, each garnering the support of 22% of the respondents. Nuclear power plants and natural gas plants were each supported by 16 percent of those polled, and coal fired power plants received the support of only 4 percent of the voters. This poll was conducted by the Gotham Research Group and was based on a sample of 500 adults.
Industry experts, like Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, believe that this new polling information calls congress to pass legislation to promote renewable energy systems. "The polling data confirms what we already knew. The American public overwhelming supports the development of solar energy. It is time for our elected officials to respond to this high public demand and enact policies that allow solar to compete with other energy sources on a level playing field."
In 2009, the Energy Information Administration forecasted that the global energy demand will increase by 44 percent between 2010 and 2030. Many hope that solar energy can meet a large portion of this demand. "With a successful 10 megawatt pilot project and more than 3,000 megawatts in the pipeline, we are primed for explosive growth in the United States, as is the entire utility-scale solar sector," said Tom Georgis of SolarReserve, a Los Angeles based solar thermal company. "This industry can provide clean solar power to millions of households while creating thousands of new green energy jobs."