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Nov 012011

From Green Right Now Reports

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say it is important to develop solar power in the United States, according to a survey about American attitudes toward solar power released today.

Studying a PV module at the recent Solar Power International show.

Americans of all political affiliations also strongly or “somewhat strongly” support continuing federal subsidies for solar power, according to the fourth annual 2011 Solar Barometer Survey conducted by Kelton Research and commissioned by Schott Solar and the Solar Energy Industry Association.

SEIA hopes the results will persuade U.S. lawmakers, on the eve of an investigation into the bankruptcy of solar maker Solyndra, not to let that one failure tarnish the entire industry. The Solyndra collapse has made news for weeks because the company had received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy and there are questions about how the Silicon Valley company managed its money.

SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch has repeatedly assured audiences that Solyndra’s failure is not indicative of the American solar industry, which he reports grew by about 69 percent over the last year, thanks in part to government incentives and to an increase in solar manufacturing in the U.S.. The nation, along with China, is projected to be the biggest or second biggest market for solar companies over the next few years.

The results of Tuesday’s survey demonstrate that Americans want to stay in the solar power business, both as producers and consumers, Resch said.

“This kind of data really shows politicians that solar is not only a good choice for power, but also politically,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch in a teleconference about the poll.

“The key thing I would emphasize is that while the Solyndra story is entertaining to a lot of people, I think it’s important to educate the public that the (DOE) loan program made a number of project-based loans that will produce gigawatts of power,” said Tom Hecht, vice president of sales and marketing for Schott Solar. “…The general public supports solar, and companies and residences are getting strong returns.”

Here are key questions, and answers from the survey, which polled 1,000 Americans representative of the nation as a whole, in late September and early October:

Question 1: If you were in charge of U.S. energy policy and could choose to provide financial support in one of the following energy sources during your term in office, which would you choose?

  • Thirty-nine percent chose solar, compared to 21 percent for natural gas, 12 percent for wind, 9 percent for nuclear and 3 percent for coal. Among Independents, solar is more than twice as popular as any other energy source (43 percent to 20 percent for natural gas).
  • Among Independents, solar is more than twice as popular as any other energy source (43 percent to 20 percent for natural gas).

Question 2: How important do you think it is for the U.S. to develop and use solar power?

  • Nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) think it is “extremely important” or “somewhat important.”
  • Eighty percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Democrats agree with this statement.

Question 3: How important do you think it is for the federal government to support U.S. solar manufacturing right now?

  • Eight out of 10 Americans (82 percent) think it is “extremely important” or “somewhat important.”
  • A majority of Independent voters (51 percent) think it is “extremely important.”

Question 4: Would you be more, less or about as likely to buy a product that you knew was made using solar energy?

  • A majority of Americans (51 percent) would be more likely to buy products produced with solar energy.
  • Sixty-one percent of consumers in the key age demographic of 18 to 44 years old would be more likely.

Question 5: Which of the following best describes the biggest concern you would have with choosing solar energy?

  • Cost was the most common concern (48 percent), followed by reliability (25 percent), uncertainty about the benefits (9 percent) and aesthetics (3 percent).

Question 6: The federal government currently gives subsidies, such as federal tax credits and grants, to traditional sources of energy, such as oil, natural gas and coal. How likely would you be to support similar subsidies for solar energy?

  • More than eight out of 10 Americans (82 percent) would be “extremely likely” or “somewhat likely” to support federal investments in solar. Seventy-two percent of Republicans support federal investments, as well as 87 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Independents.
  • Seventy-one percent of Republicans support federal incentives, as well as 82 percent of Independents, and 87 percent of Democrats.

Sep 102010

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

A group of environmentalists who wanted solar panels installed on the White House were able to meet with administration staffers today, but they did not get a commitment for a solar array at the first family’s residence.

The team representing the “Put Solar On It” initiative, included students from Unity College in Maine which has been using a solar array installed on the White House during the Carter Administration. The panels Jimmy Carter had installed were dismantled by the Reagan Administration, and ultimately relocated to Unity College. The Put Solar On It group carried a remnant of that array to the White House to help make their point that President Obama could again light the way.

The team’s leader, noted environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, explained the mission in a Washington Post editorial:

“… we’re carrying the panel back to the White House and asking President Obama to put it back on the roof, alongside a full array of new photovoltaic and hot-water panels. Obama has drawn much of the blame for the failure of the climate legislation, which he didn’t push aggressively; this is a chance to make at least symbolic amends,” McKibben wrote in the op-ed piece.

“Clearly, a solar panel on the White House roof won’t solve climate change — and we’d rather have strong presidential leadership on energy transformation. But given the political scene, this may be as good as we’ll get for the moment.

“The Bush administration, in fact, created an opening — it brought solar energy back to the White House, with some photovoltaic panels on a maintenance shed and a small water heating system for the “presidential spa and cabana.” But the Bush officials purposely did it without fanfare, and fanfare is exactly what we need. Those panels belong on the roof, where every visitor can see them,” McKibben wrote.

After the hour long meeting with White House officials — the President did not attend — the group issued a statement expressing their disappointment, and quoted McKibben:

“The White House said they wouldn’t take the panel and that they would continue with their deliberative process in deciding to put solar back on the roof. We passed along the wish of the tens of thousands of people that the Administration would speed up their deliberative process; in any event, we’re actually done deliberating and our supporters are ready to get to work on their own homes, schools and churches on 10/10/10.”

McKibben was referring to the tens of thousands who sent letters via the Put Solar On It campaign asking Obama, and other world leaders, to put up solar panels. The 10/10/10 event, is a worldwide “work party” initiated by the climate action group 350.org, when people and groups will take their own steps toward a greener future, including putting up solar panels on homes and buildings. More than 1,800 community events are registered with 35o.org.

Jean Altomere, a senior at Unity College, said she was disappointed that the White House was not prepared to more quickly decide upon and install a solar roof.

“No tears fell in the room, but things were definitely tense. The meeting was a disappointment, but I’m proud that a few students from rural Maine could make these Administration officials feel so uncomfortable. They need to know we’re not going to let them off the hook when our future is on the line,” she said.

Sungevity Solar and 350.org collaborated on drive to get solar panels on the White House.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network