A report from cleantech market watchdog Pike Research suggests that U.S. consumers had a less favorable view of clean energy technologies at the end of 2011, compared with just two years earlier.
In 2009, 50 percent of those surveyed had an "extremely" or "very" favorable view of the 13 different clean energy technologies considered. That number dropped to 43 percent in late 2011, among the 1,000 U.S. adults considered by the annual Pike Research "Energy & Environment Consumer Survey."
Biofuels got the biggest cold shoulder from those surveys: the favorability level for biofuels among those surveyed in 2011 was 39 percent, compared with 56 percent in 2009. The smart grid concept also suffered a large decline in perception.
Here's a list of the 13 clean energy concepts considered by Pike Research, along with the percentage of respondents that said they had either a "very favorable" or "favorable" view of the concept of technology.
- Solar (77 percent)
- Wind (71 percent)
- Hybrid vehicles (61 percent)
- Electric cars (55 percent)
- Natural gas cars (51 percent)
- Clean coal (42 percent)
- Nuclear power (40 percent)
- Biofuels (39 percent)
- Smart meters (38 percent)
- Smart grid (37 percent)
- Carbon offsets/credits (19 percent)
- LEED certification (18 percent)
- Cap and trade (14 percent)
It is REALLY interesting to me that the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) green building system has such little name recognition among consumers. About 45 percent of the consumers surveyed said they were unfamiliar with the program: which should be a wakeup call to all the big companies that love touting all those credentials. (I'm not saying not to work on them, but apparently it doesn't really affect consumer perceptions about your company.)
What to make of this data?
I'm not necessarily convinced that is means people don't support the idea of clean energy, I just think it means consumers have a lot more on their minds to worry about, especially the economy. Sadly, many people still fail to make the connection that investments in new technologies could have a stimulative effect.