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Consumer Support for Clean Energy Held Steady in 2012, According to New Survey from Pike Research

After facing several challenges in 2012, including the demise of some high-profile solar energy firms, continued political inaction on climate change and energy policy, and concerns around smart grids/smart meters and consumer privacy, the U.S. clean energy industry is seeking to rebound in 2013. According to a new white paper from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, after declining sharply from 2009 to 2011, consumer support for clean energy concepts has essentially stabilized. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted in the fall of 2012 found that the average percentage of consumers with a “very favorable” or “favorable” view of 13 clean energy concepts stands at 42 percent.

“Following a period of declining consumer favorability for clean energy in the past few years, there were relatively few changes in our survey responses from 2011 to 2012,” says managing director Clint Wheelock. “Many in the general public have already formed opinions about energy and environmental topics, and these views are holding steady despite the challenges in the space. In addition, despite efforts to educate consumers about the benefits of these energy and environmental topics, attitudes about these topics are slow or difficult to change.”

The exceptions, adds Wheelock, were that consumer support for four clean energy concepts fell significantly between 2011 and 2012. This dip in favorability affected the four most popular clean energy categories: solar energy, wind energy, hybrid vehicles, and electric cars.

Among the 13 clean energy concepts, consumer opinions of the clean energy concepts were generally the most positive; all four concepts received favorable responses from at least 40 percent of the respondents. Nuclear power also earned the highest percentage of unfavorable and neutral responses among all energy and environmental concepts. These results have held steady year over year.

The percentages of survey respondents stating that they had either a “very favorable” or “favorable” view for each of the 13 concepts in 2012 were as follows:

  • Solar Energy: 69 percent
  • Wind Energy: 66 percent
  • Hybrid Vehicles: 61 percent
  • Electric Cars: 49 percent
  • Natural Gas Cars: 49 percent
  • Clean Coal: 42 percent
  • Nuclear Power: 41 percent
  • Biofuels: 39 percent
  • Smart Meters: 39 percent
  • Smart Grid: 36 percent
  • Carbon Offsets/Credits: 21 percent
  • LEED Certification: 20 percent
  • Cap and Trade: 15 percent

Pike Research’s white paper, “Energy & Environment Consumer Survey,” presents all of the survey responses as a basis for comparing consumer views of 13 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 study includes charts summarizing the survey results, along with commentary on notable trends and patterns for each area. A full copy of the white paper is available for free download on the Pike Research website.

The results in this white paper are based on a web-based survey of 1,001 consumers conducted by Pike Research in the fall of 2012 using a structured online questionnaire. The survey invitation was sent to a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample of consumers who were members of a large online panel. Respondents were offered a chance to win prizes in exchange for their participation. The margin of error for these survey results is +/- 3 percent with a 95 percent confidence interval.

About Pike Research

Pike Research, which joined Navigant’s global Energy Practice on July 1, 2012, provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. The team’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Utilities, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors. Additional information about Pike Research can be found at www.navigant.com/pikeresearch.

About Navigant

Navigant (NYSE: NCI) is a specialized, global expert services firm dedicated to assisting clients in creating and protecting value in the face of critical business risks and opportunities. Through senior level engagement with clients, Navigant professionals combine technical expertise in Disputes and Investigations, Economics, Financial Advisory and Management Consulting, with business pragmatism in the highly regulated Construction, Energy, Financial Services and Healthcare industries to support clients in addressing their most critical business needs. More information about Navigant can be found at www.navigant.com.

* The information contained in this press release concerning the report, “Energy & Environment Consumer Survey,” is a summary and reflects Pike Research’s current expectations based on market data and trend analysis. Market predictions and expectations are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release or the report. Please refer to the full report for a complete understanding of the assumptions underlying the report’s conclusions and the methodologies used to create the report. Neither Pike Research nor Navigant undertakes any obligation to update any of the information contained in this press release or the report.

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