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Pew: Renewable energy enjoys wide support while fossil fuels divide national opinion

WT24 Desk

Dive Brief:

  • More than 80% of Americans support development of new solar and wind energy resources, according to a new survey released from Pew Research.
  • Far more contentious, more than 40% but less than half-favored expanded coal mining, fracking, nuclear and offshore drilling.
  • PV Magazine points out the survey includes good news for the residential solar industry: four in 10 U.S. homeowners have considered going solar, and even more in areas like the West Coast are considering installing panels.

Dive Insight:

Pew Research’s “Politics of Climate” survey is a mixed bag for energy industry watchers, revealing a solid chunk of Americans support expanded fossil fuel use, while almost everyone supports renewables.

“One spot of unity in an otherwise divided environmental policy landscape is that the vast majority of Americans support the concept of expanding both solar and wind power,” the think tank said in a blog post. “The public is more closely divided when it comes to expanding fossil fuel energies such as coal mining, offshore oil and gas drilling, and hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas.”

About 41% of homeowners have said they gave “serious consideration” to installing solar panels (including 4% who have already installed them).  “Their reasons include both cost savings and help for the environment,” Pew said.

On the west coast, about two-thirds of homeowners have either considered or installed solar panels, compared with 35% in the South, 40% in the Midwest and 38% in the Northeast. Topline results from Pew’s survey can be found here.

While the power mix is ultimately determined by state regulators, utilities and market forces, public sentiment can have an impact on which resources utilities choose to pursue and which they forego. In Utility Dive’s 2016 power sector survey, 91% of more than 500 respondents indicated they expect utility-scale solar to increase significantly or moderately in their fuel mixes over the next five years. 77% see wind doing so, and 72% expect the same for natural gas,ENN reports.

 

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