Despite Solyndra debacle, Americans support solar (part 2)

Close to 90 percent of those polled in the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer believe it is important for the United States to develop and use solar energy.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Here's the thing. Even though some people would absolutely love to turn the Solyndra bankruptcy into an anti-solar mandate, Americans still would love to see more solar power installed. What's more, they would love to see American money invested in American companies that will sell American-made solar technology.

Those are the findings of a new poll publicized by an admittedly biased source, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The research itself, however, was conducted by an independent firm, Kelton Research and reported in an independent report called the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer. The survey was conducted among 1,000 respondents during late September and October 2011. (Comparison numbers from previous years were gleaned from about 1,000 respondents surveyed in roughly the same time frame each year.)

The overriding finding was that close to 90 percent of the respondents to the barometer said they think it is important for the United States to develop and use more solar energy. Democrats were more solar-friendly than Republicans, with 94 percent of the former supporting that notion, compared with 80 percent of the latter. Independents came in at 90 percent support.

Approximately 82 percent of those surveyed said that it was important for America to offer federal tax credits and grants for the solar industry that are at least comparable to those offered up to traditional sources of energy such as coal, natural gas and oil. Support among Democrats was slightly higher than that number, while support among Republicans was slightly lower.

In analyzing the data, SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said:

"Thanks in part to proven policy successes like the 1603 Treasury Program, the solar industry had doubled its workforce in the last two years and now employes more than 100,000 Americans at 5,000 businesses spanning every state. And solar enjoys overwhelming support across all political affiliations -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents. It's clear that solar has the strong support of the American people. Now it needs the support of U.S. policy makers in extending job-creating programs like the 1603 program to make sure solar continues to work for America."

Another tangential but interesting finding in the study: Approximately half of those surveyed said they were more inclined to buy products made using solar energy, than those made from dirtier sources of energy. I guess you could call it a solar side effect; but it suggests that manufacturers and businesses that are using solar as a source of power at manufacturing sites might want to talk that up more.

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