photo: Wayne National Forest/Creative Commons
The latest, and third, edition of the Schott Solar Barometer report has been released with similar results to last year: Overwhelming people in the United States are enthusiastic about solar power, think the government should do more to support it and less to support fossil fuels, and would like to get more personally involved with solar. Here are the relevant stats:
- 94% of Americans think it is important for the nation to develop and use solar energy. This was consistent across all political party affiliations.
- 80% of Americans agree that Congress should consider reallocating federal subsidies from fossil fuels to solar.
- Over half (51%) the country would choose to work in the solar industry if they were to start working in renewable energy.
- Nearly half (49%) of Americans considering solar for their home or business plan to make a decision to adopt solar in less than one year.
- Nearly half (49%) of Americans are willing to pay more for clean, reliable solar energy.
It should be no great secret that TreeHugger in general and this author in particular are pretty darn enthusiastic about solar power, thinking it's an essential part of powering an ecological sustainable world.
So, with that in mind, let's quite openly poke at those stats a bit to provide some commentary and context:
1. The 94% figure is up 2% from the last Schott Solar Barometer, but is within the margin of error for the survey, so it's practically unchanged. The top line message is solid that Americans think solar power is a good thing, the devil lurking in the details is how to bring more of it online and on roof. And I imagine if Schott were to dig down more deeply into the picture would become muddied pretty quickly.
2. There's lots of wiggle room in the word 'consider'. While 80% of Americans think reallocating subsidies from fossil fuels to solar should be considered, no doubt a great many people would stop short of saying all of the subsidies would go--especially if convinced by vested fossil fuel interests that it would increase the costs of gasoline.
Breaking that down along party lines: 86% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans, and 81% of Independents think reducing fossil fuel subsidies is a good thing.
Personally I think all of the fossil fuel subsidies should go so that we can begin a transition towards a complete ban on fossil fuel use--no, I am not at all convinced that market mechanisms alone will stop the destruction caused by fossil fuels.
3. 51% of people deciding they'd choose solar over other renewable energy if they were looking for work in the field for the first time? My initial reaction was, "I bet nearly everyone else chose wind power, just because that's what they know about." But I was wrong. 20% of respondents chose wind power, 9% chose geothermal, 9% biofuels, and 8% hydropower.
4. Ditto here on the illumination factor. So, half of people considering solar power are going to make a decision in the next year. That decision could be no.
5. Now this is better: Half of people willing to pay more for clean energy. But again, how much more would no doubt sway opinion. Take away subsidies for fossil fuels, along with taxing pollution from power generation, and this question may well be rhetorical--the cost balance suddenly tips in favor of low carbon energy.
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92% of Americans Want Solar Power... Now!
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