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Pike survey finds US consumers favor renewable energy, hybrids and EVs; disfavor cap and trade

7 February 2011

Survey results for favorable impressions of energy and environmental concepts. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge.

According to a new survey from Pike Research, US consumer support for renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, is high while support for cap and trade as a carbon management scheme is extremely low.

A survey of more than 1,000 US adults about their views on 12 energy and environmental concepts found that 79% of consumers have a favorable view of solar energy, and 75% have a favorable view of wind energy. Hybrid vehicles (64%) and electric vehicles (57%) came in third and fourth. At the bottom of the favorable rankings were carbon offsets/credits; LEED certification; and cap and trade.

The percentages of survey respondents stating that they had either a “very favorable” or “favorable” view for each of the 12 concepts were as follows:

  • Solar Energy: 79%
  • Wind Energy: 75%
  • Hybrid Vehicles: 64%
  • Electric Cars: 57%
  • Biofuels: 47%
  • Clean Coal: 47%
  • Nuclear Power: 42%
  • Smart Meters: 37%
  • Smart Grid: 37%
  • Carbon Offsets/Credits: 24%
  • LEED Certification: 19%
  • Cap and Trade: 15%

Cap and Trade and Nuclear Power were tied in terms of the largest percentage of “strongly unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” views from survey participants, each with a 19% unfavorable rating, followed closely by Carbon Offsets/Credits with 18%.

LEED Certification, the green building certification program administered by the US Green Building Council, suffered from a very low level of familiarity among respondents; 53% stated that they were unfamiliar with the program, the lowest level of familiarity of any of the 12 energy and environment concepts.

Clean Transportation. Of the three concepts directly tied to transportation (hybrids, EVs and biofuels), hybrids received the highest percentage of favorable responses, and the second fewest “not sure/not familiar” responses (5%) among all concepts.

With a majority of favorable responses, only 9% unfavorable responses and little incidence of unfamiliarity, hybrid vehicles are another widely accepted clean technology among consumers.

—Energy & Environment Consumer Survey

Segmentation analysis revealed a positive correlation between favorable opinions toward hybrid vehicles and age; the youngest segment showed a 7% lower level of favorability than the oldest segment.

New vehicle market share for hybrids in the US in 2010 was about 2.4%.

Electric cars was the only other concept after wind, solar and hybrids to receive a majority of favorable responses. Of the remaining 43%, 27% were neutral, some had unfavorable views (10%) and only a few were unclear on the concept (6%).

When segmenting the favorable response by the demographic characteristics of the respondents, the only clear indicator of favorability is education. Differences between segments in the income, gender and age categories were mostly insignificant. The difference between the least and most educated segments was a substantial 25%. This data indicates that targeting of more educated consumers will be a common strategy among manufacturers of electric vehicles.

—Energy & Environment Consumer Survey

Biofuels and the clean coal concepts tied on favorable views (47%).

Carbon management. Carbon management concepts received some of the highest percentages of unfavorable responses. Twenty-four percent had a positive view of carbon offsets/credits, although the majority of responses were either neutral (27%) or not sure/not familiar (31%).

The concept of cap and trade was the least favorable topic in the survey, with only 15% having favorable or very favorable (5%) views on it. Cap and trade was also the only concept of the 12 to receive more unfavorable responses than favorable ones.

Lagging behind nearly all other concepts in favorable responses, the concepts dealing with carbon management were not well received by survey respondents. The shortage of favorable responses to carbon offsets/credits and cap and trade was accompanied by relatively high percentages of unfavorable and unfamiliar responses. This consumer reaction is notable since these concepts are designed to be utilized by businesses. Cap and trade proved to be slightly more disagreeable to consumers by owning the greatest number of unfavorable responses and the fewest favorable reactions. This concept was also one of the least recognized by respondents with 40% expressing that they were unfamiliar with cap and trade. Carbon management was distinguished from other concepts by its appeal to younger consumers. While older consumers were more likely to favor nearly every other concept, younger consumers showed higher levels of favorable response for both carbon management concepts.

—Energy & Environment Consumer Survey


February 7, 2011 in Electric (Battery), Fuels, Hybrids, Policy, Surveys | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack (0)


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What we've known for a long time. Cap and trade is dead. And that includes carbon offsets, once the public understands what they are (paying tax on non-polluting trace gas.)

What the public continues to support in greater numbers is Energy Independence - getting off the oil addiction and $450 BILLION annual payment for foreign oil.

I depends on who you believe, republicans, or scientists.

Interesting to note that so many people are interested into electrified vehicles. This seem very positive for the near future.

Unfortunately, it is sad to note that so few people are interested into more efficient housing and buildings. Is it because of lack of information/knowledge or interest?

How much time and money have scientists wasted trying to prove that an apocalypse is coming? Scientists understood that human beings are only 5% of all CO2 emissions and that developed economies are actually getting more efficient (CO2/GDP) so they suggested we plant trees and stop killing oceanic phytoplankton. Planting trees got boring and 3rd world countries refused to stop oceanic dumping so scientists told everyone that anthropogenic global warming was going to bake us alive. Turns out people aren't afraid of 1 degree temperature change. Now scientists tell us that global warming is going to create a climate apocalypse. We have no evidence to suggest that warmer temps will lead to climate apocalypse, and we have absolute no evidence whatsoever that falling carbon levels will create favorable weather patterns. Climate scientists have used fear (mainly in Europe) to stifle the economic innovation and growth necessary to create clean energy. Thankfully the same miscreants have been stopped in the United States. We now have the ability to develop alternative energy as a legitimate industry, not as a tax evasion scheme.

It is clear that green energy is the next "hot" technology, and nothing could be more detrimental to its adoption than onerous, unpopular legislation (politicization is bad enough by itself). Green energy is about higher performance (economic, labor productivity, consumer utility) with less negative externalities. It is not about forcing one's culture upon an entire nation of people.

Is it because of lack of information/knowledge or interest?

It's the lack of information: Reread the article and study the the parts where they use words like "unfamiliar" and "education."

As a rule I take polls like this with a grain of salt; afterall I've seen polls which say about half of Americans believe the world is less than 10,000 years old and man was created by God.

This should explain;

And this;

Badly built inefficient vehicles and houses, mountains of throw away products, children raised on unhealthy junk food, grossly overweight people, inefficient machines and power plants, overly greedy dishonest bankers, shady speculators and lobbyists, overcrowded jails, unsaved dangerous streets, very poor public schools, corrupted politicians, very high public and personal debts, polluted rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, underground (from SG and tar sands extractions) etc is what our children have inherited from decades of free unregulated enterprise.

We will have to do much better to survive.

Well said, Harvey D. I'm from Australia but we have no reason to gloat as we have the worst rate of species extinction in the world and plenty of our own social ills.

Cap and trade is an elegant system but it has to be well designed and regulated otherwise it will be rorted (eg. Europe). I think people don't like it because they don't understand it. All it does is level the playing field so that polluters have to pay a penalty for greenhouse gases that the whole world has to deal with. It provides an incentive for everyone to clean up their act. Far better than picking winners with individual technologies.

As for the climte change deniers, reasoned debate and explanation never worked in the past so no point in wasting you time.

I would prefer that more people were in favor of nuclear power. I can see no good that can come out of totally rejecting nuclear power as an energy option.

Cap-and-trade is neither elegant nor effective, and Pigou (the man who has become famous for his work regarding negative externalities) explicitly said not to use Pigovian taxation in practice b/c it was impossible to accurately assign a price. Energy credits are governed by artificial supply and demand (arbitrarily manipulated by government bureaucrats) not by the actual cost of negative externalities. Also, Pigovian taxes are generally regressive so they require other income redistribution arrangements to avoid destabilizing society as a whole.

Much like Keynesian economic theory, Pigovian theory has been exploited by government/private officials who want to create something to further their own ends. The "common good" of Pigovian taxation and Keynesian government spending is often outweighed by the abuses of the people in power.

phoenix1: interesting definition of "green energy."

"All it does is level the playing field so that polluters have to pay a penalty for greenhouse gases that the whole world has to deal with."

critta - there is NO EVIDENCE that man made GHG causes global climate change or global warming. In fact, some of the latest science suggests the sun and its lack of spots may be edging the Earth in a cooling direction:

Of course the question is immaterial when it comes to sustainability. Even without global warming we need to alter our energy resources to fully sustainable technologies. We can do that with a cogent portfolio of NG replaced coal plants, renewables (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal) new nuclear, AND highly effective conservation via CHP for homes and light industry.

THIS is the course we must follow now or we invite the early introduction of disruptive energy technology that could destabilize world economies.

Combined heat, cooling and power fueled by natural gas can be implemented the fastest of any CO2 reducing technology. Given the option to pay the full price of solar or wind energy, most consumers would reject them both.

People can be offered the choice of buying fake solar electricity and have their power go out when the sun goes down and also pay four times as much or more for each unit of energy. They can experience first hand the need and cost of batteries for 24 hour a day electrical service. They would be better off buying gasoline for their electricity. Wind power is similar as the turbines only produce and average of 25 percent of their rating. If people sign up for the solar or wind experience, they must stay with it for a year. This is the way the voting on renewable energy should be conducted, the people register and pay the known costs for each unit of energy of the type they vote for.

There is not enough wind or solar or hydro electricity for any real test but the government can collect the extra prices as taxes to support the various forms even if the electricity comes from coal.

Nuclear energy is entirely sustainable for billions of years on the earth until the sun dims and expands to beyond the diameter of the earth. Your lifetime share of the actual "Massive" nuclear wastes to provide all the energy that is used in the US divided by the population would fit in a coke can. The whole amount for a hundred years of US use would not fill up a large WalMart. If the US does not use reprocessing, the volume is 30 times as large, but is a waste of 95 percent of the fuel. It would still be represented by a cube only three times as large in each dimension.

With reprocessing all of the long lived elements heavier than uranium are put back into the reactor and produce energy when they fission. New elements are made but they will also eventually be used. There will be no large amounts of long lived materials to worry about and WIPP or a duplicate of WIPP can store the remainder with safety.

The speculation on the prices of all commodities has demonstrated the need for reprocessing. Uranium sold at one time in the past for only eight dollars a pound.


The amount of CO2 released in Germany has not been reduced at all with all of the efforts. France has kept the CO2 releases in Germany lower than they would be by selling nuclear electricity to Germany and other countries including the UK. Aside from combined heating power and cooling, Nuclear energy is the only way for a substantial reduction in the release of CO2 and preserve industry and occupations. ..HG..

@ ai_vin

" was created by God."

I will believe otherwise if you can prove that man was not created by God. We live in the age of the Enlightenment after all.

Mannstein, where's YOUR proof?

The world, specially USA and Canada should consider the short, medium and long term effects of shale gas extraction.

The saline water (10X sea water in salt content) below the shale gas layer and the chemicals used to fracture the rock formation are slowly finding their way upwards into the fresh drinking water layer and all the up to the ground surface.

Our smart free enterprise may be creating a long turn mess and will certainly run away from their responsibilities as they have done before.

Harvey is correct in warning about fracking polluting water tables. But he is wrong to assume there is nothing being done to mitigate this danger. There is. By the EPA in a new study begun a couple months ago. Here is a good Scientific American article on the issues:

One solution may be to limit the additives that fracking companies consider their "secret sauce." Plain water and sand under tons of pressure is enough to fracture shale and release gas. Adding petroleum products to the mix is likely more hype than anything else.

With as much as ten Trillion cubic meters of gas in the Marcellus Shale alone - fracking extraction represents a plausible resource PROVIDED the enviro concerns are met and fixed.


God created light before he created man A few days after he created light, he created the sun and stars that make the light. This sounds kind of dumb. At least man was smart enough to create photovoltaic cells to do something useful with the light, which will be needed to mitigate the failure of cap and trade.

On solar and wind and a few others.. we are fairly sure you cant kill us with it... so ok.

On everything else... we are fairly sure you will find someway to kill us with it so no.. just NO.

Thats realy the problem with oboma care... we are fairly sure that yes you will find some incredibly buricratic way to kill us with it...

Buricrats ... the most deadly plague of all.

What's worst than Obamacare? Nixoncare.

Mannstein, asking someone to prove a negative proves only that you fail at logic.

As for cap and trade, it's a bad policy idea based on what politicians can do (and the empires the traders want to build) rather than what's good for the world. The world would be better off with a straight carbon tax; the economic case for carbon reductions doesn't depend on a fluctuating permit price, and there are few or no deadweight losses from parasites like Goldman-Sachs.

Reel$$: Take a look at the last 130 years of global temperature variations and tell me that nothing's going on. It looks like Mann's "hockey stick" is very much a real thing, and the last few years of low sunspot count have coincided with record temperatures at both poles. Your denialism isn't in line with reality.


What is "reality?" Anything like solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, Dr. Kenneth Tapping's concern that sunspots may be indicative of future climate??

"Hockey stick?" Source of endless guffaws?

To believe that unregulated free enterprises, such as Goldman-Sachs and friends, would govern in a way to increase the majority's safety and general well being is credulous and naive. Unchecked dictatorship is similar and is not an acceptable solution either.

Democracy, with frequently updated necessary checks and balance, has worked well for a few centuries, before overly greedy managers, shabby speculators, underhand squalid lobbyists and conniving collaborating politicians have demolished its very foundation. The same thing happened centuries ago in Greece and Rome a few decades before their fall.

For democracy to survive it will have to be updated very soon.

Loopholes will have to be closed. Recent large embezzlement by bank and financial enterprise managers (and friends) have to be stopped before they ruin the nation. The Monopoly game has to come to an end.


Assume anthropogenic global warming is true. So what? Why do I have to believe in anthropogenic global warming, climate apocalypse, and polar bear genocide to buy green products?

The anthropogenic crowd are like the Catholic church of the middle ages. They sell indulgences. They "bless" things and then double the price. They seek to control all undeveloped land via federal bureaucracy. The leadership actively seek to harm (with taxes) the unwitting middle class citizens who go along for the ride. They turn green energy into a tax evasion scheme. I've got no problem with religion, but I'd certainly never try to pass it off as science, and I'd never go to Washington to impose religion on 300M other people.

I've got no problem with anthropogenic global warming theory, but it has nothing to do with green energy. I buy fuel-efficient vehicles b/c we are committing economic suicide with oil imports. I like energy saving technology b/c I get lots of utility from reducing energy usage (psychological and economic). Best of all, green energy could allow people to go off-grid which means they no longer answer to government regulators or energy oligopolists. Furthermore, I just want to reduce pollution.

Remind me where apocalypse, onerous taxation, and climate priests (in government) fit into the green energy sector.

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