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Survey: Americans less favorable toward solar, wind

Most Americans have a favorable view toward wind and solar energy, but the extent of their support has slipped in recent years, according to a report today from Boulder-based Navigant Research.

In the survey of 1,001 U.S. adults conducted last fall, 69 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of solar energy, down from 77 percent in 2011.

And support for wind energy edged down, to 66 percent in late 2012 from 71 percent a year earlier.

The results echo a three-year decline in favorable ratings for wind and solar as measured by previous surveys, Navigant said.

Navigant’s report cited publicity over financial difficulties faced by some solar-energy firms as a possible factor in the decline in solar favorability.

“Since 2009, there have been steady declines in favorability for some clean energy concepts, particularly the areas that have traditionally enjoyed strong consumer support such as solar energy, wind energy, hybrid vehicles, and electric cars,” said Clint Wheelock, Navigant managing director.

The survey asked U.S. adults to rate how favorably they view 13 “smart energy” concepts, also including clean coal, “smart grid” systems and “cap and trade” methods of regulating carbon emissions.

Overall, the average favorability responses for all 13 concepts declined to 42 percent in late 2012 from 50 percent in 2009.

In the 2012 survey, solar was the most favorably regarded concept, while the smallest favorable responses were for cap and trade (15 percent favorable) and LEED certification (20 percent).

“Despite efforts to educate consumers about the benefits of clean energy technologies, attitudes around these topics – which will be key to the proliferation of these technologies into the mass market – are slow or difficult to change,” the company said.

> Click here for Navigant Research’s summary of the report.

Navigant Research was formerly known as Pike Research. Founded in 2009, it produces reports on clean technology and emerging energy technology.

It was acquired in July 2012 by Chicago-based Navigant Consulting Inc. (NYSE: NCI).