Nine out of ten Americans think they know about energy, and one in three thinks they know a lot about energy. Yet, when you ask people where their energy comes from, well, their guesses are a bit off.
“Americans seriously overestimate how much electricity we get from renewables,” says a 2016 survey of more than a thousand ordinary consumers from a company called Makovsky that advises the energy industry on communications. See a summary of survey results in the PowerPoint presentation below.
The two most interesting numbers are:
- Americans think that the country today gets 11% of its electricity from solar power. The truth is, it’s only about 1%.
- Likewise, Americans think that in five years solar will provide 20% of America’s electricity. But the US Energy Information Administration predicts that solar will still only produce about 1% of the nation’s power.
Frankly, given the rapid growth of solar over the last few years, this projected number seems low to me. But the EIA is assuming that, even while solar will continue to grow, the overall pie of America’s electricity use will grow as well, making solar’s relative piece of the pie about the same size.
We’ll just have to see about that.
Meanwhile, even if you want to argue with numbers about the future, it’s safe to say today that Americans do think that the country uses more solar than we actually do. Much more.
Is that a problem?
Only if it makes Americans complacent about pushing for more solar. If citizens think that we have enough solar already, that we’ll get plenty more in the future by just letting things go on as they have been, and that grid electricity is basically pretty clean, then they won’t see much urgency to demand more solar.
Solar has accomplished a lot so far just to get to 1%. But obviously, there’s plenty of room for growth. Let’s help make that growth happen sooner rather than later.
— Erik Curren, The Solar Patriot