Most Americans prefer renewable energy over traditional sources but are “way too optimistic about the cost of solar and wind,” a Harvard University professor says.
Stephen Ansolabehere told a Chicago audience that people tend to have accurate thoughts on the costs and negatives from coal, natural gas and nuclear. That’s not so for the costs of alternative energy, and “the caution is that if you inform them, you’re going to get lower support,” he said at the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago, reported PV Magazine.
Ansolabehere’s 12-year study found that a majority of Americans prefer renewables like wind and solar and view natural gas, whose use is climbing along with U.S. shale oil and gas production, as a bridge fuel between coal and renewables. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they want to increase renewable use somewhat or a lot, and the issue is nonpartisan.
However, few respondents understand the costs and “even fewer are generally willing to shoulder that perceived cost,” PV Magazine said.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects solar power generation to substantially grow in 2015, but solar is still a tiny fraction of U.S. energy consumption. Even with the projected growth, solar would account for just 0.6 percent of U.S. generation.
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