Since 2009, Navigant Research has conducted an annual national consumer survey to gauge public perceptions of energy and environmental concepts. Between 2009 and 2012, there were steady declines in favorability for some concepts, particularly the ones with most favorable rankings in the past, such as solar energy, wind energy, hybrid vehicles, and electric cars. According to the most recent consumer survey from Navigant Research, however, consumer favorability for a number of these concepts has rebounded. In particular, positive overall impressions of solar energy have now reached 79% of Americans – a level close to the results of 2009, when 81% of the respondents had a favorable view of solar energy.

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

The survey results are summarized in a free white paper, which is available for download on the Navigant Research website.

“Solar energy is one of the most popular and least controversial green technologies in the eyes of consumers,” says Clint Wheelock, managing director with Navigant Research. “But it is followed closely by wind energy, which gained a favorable response from 72% of Americans.”

The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted in the fall of 2013, asking respondents to provide their level of favorability for key concepts:

  • Solar energy
  • Wind energy
  • Nuclear power
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Electric cars
  • Natural gas vehicles
  • Biofuels
  • Smart grid
  • Smart meters
  • LEED certification

Also notable in the 2013 survey was the increase in favorable views of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid vehicles (67%), electric cars (61%), and natural gas vehicles (56%).

The white paper, “Energy and Environment Consumer Survey,” analyzes the survey responses as a basis for comparing consumer views of 10 energy and environmental topics to one another. In addition to favorable and unfavorable opinions, the number of respondents unfamiliar with a concept is also considered to compare the level of consumer awareness within each topic. The white paper includes charts summarizing the survey results, along with demographic breakouts for each clean energy topic.