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Public attitudes toward clean and renewable energy concepts have tended to fluctuate and, in several cases, decline. According to a new consumer survey from Navigant Research, however, favorable attitudes for a number of these concepts - particularly wind energy, solar power, hybrid vehicles and electric cars - have rebounded significantly from their 2012 levels.

The survey, which polled 1,084 U.S. adults in fall 2013, found that wind energy was viewed as either favorable or very favorable by 72% of respondents - up from 66% in 2012. Wind was only slightly less popular than solar energy, which held the top spot at 79% favorability - an increase from 69% in 2012.

Notably, Navigant found that just 7% of respondents held unfavorable opinions of wind power, and approximately one in five respondents was neutral or had no opinion on the energy resource.

From a demographic perspective, Navigant says there was a 9% difference in favorability toward wind energy between men and women, although this difference was close to the margin of error in each direction. Consumers with incomes of $75,000 or higher, respondents 45 years of age and older, and those with four-year college degrees and graduate school held more favorable views of wind as well, the research firm adds.

Navigant says the similarly high levels of favorable views toward solar and wind energy indicate that consumers are generally supportive of the more established renewable energies that harness naturally occurring power sources. Since these two concepts have retained their most favored status year after year, the firm asserts that consumers consider these renewable energies to be important pieces in the power generation portfolio of the future.

Overall, the average favorability rating for the 10 concepts that fall under the categories of clean energy, clean transportation, smart grid and building efficiency rose to the highest level seen in Navigant Research’s annual survey since 2010. The rating rose from 44% in 2012 to 51%.

"Between 2009 and 2012, there were steady declines in favorability for some clean energy concepts, particularly the most favorable concepts, such as solar energy, wind energy, and hybrid and electric vehicles," says Clint Wheelock, managing director at Navigant Research. "[2013] saw statistically significant increases in favorability for seven of the 10 concepts, and a decline for only one - nuclear power."

Navigant Research’s white paper regarding the consumer survey can be found here.




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