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Poll Reports 94% of Americans Say It's Important for the U.S. to Develop and Use Solar Energy

June 10, 2008 (Washington, D.C.) – A vast majority of Americans, across all political parties, overwhelmingly support development and funding of solar energy. Ninety-one percent of Republicans, 97 percent of Democrats and 98 percent of Independents agree that developing solar power is vital to the United States.

These and other findings were reported today in the SCHOTT Solar BarometerTM, a nationally representative survey conducted by the independent polling firm, Kelton Research.

The survey revealed that 77 percent of Americans feel that the development of solar power, and other renewable energy sources, should be a major priority of the federal government. Independent voters felt strongest about this, compared to voters in other political parties, with 86 percent of Independents supporting the statement.

When asked which one energy source they would support if they were President, 41 percent of Americans picked solar. Solar and wind together were favored nearly 20 times more than coal (3 percent).

“These results are an undeniable signal to our elected leaders that Americans want job-creating solar power, now,” said Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

According to the survey, nearly three-quarters of Republicans (72 percent), Democrats (72 percent) and Independents (74 percent) favor an extension of the federal investment tax credits (ITC) as a way to encourage development of solar power and fund continued development of the technology. In contrast, only 8 percent of Americans believe the ITC should not be extended.

Current federal legislation, which provides incentives to spur the growth of renewable energy, is set to expire at the end of the year. Experts predict that without long-term renewal of the legislation, the solar energy industry will struggle to maintain its momentum. According to independent analysis by Navigant Consulting, this would translate into the loss of 39,000 jobs, as well as the loss of nearly $8 billion in investments. When wind is included, 116,000 jobs and $19 billion in investment are at risk, according to the report.

“Solar development meansjob growth for Americans, by Americans, in an industry that will benefit America.” said Dr. Gerald Fine, President & CEO of SCHOTT North America. “Rather than rely on foreign sources for fuel, the U.S. can aspire to become the world’s leader in clean energy.”

Extension of the tax credits continues to be in doubt as the House, Senate and Administration debate differing plans. In May, the House Ways and Means Committee cleared H.R. 6049, which would extend the solar investment tax credit for six years. According to SEIA, this legislation would secure America’s clean-energy future by closing an income tax loophole enjoyed by hedge-fund managers on their off-shore accounts.

“The U.S. Senate has an opportunity to act decisively by passing the Renewable Energy & Job Creation Act of 2008 (H.R. 6049) this month. This is smart policy that will help solar become a powerful economic engine for the country, stabilize energy prices for consumers and businesses and improve America’s national energy security. A vote against this bill is a vote against what the vast majority of Americans are demanding,” said Mr. Resch.

“When you consider that, according to the American Solar Energy Society, nearly 7,000 gigawatts (GW) of solar generation capacity exists in the American Southwest, America is truly a sleeping giant,” said Dr. Fine. “Americans want to wake this giant up.”

About the Survey’s Methodology

The SCHOTT Solar Barometer Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between May 29th and June 2nd, 2008 using an email invitation and an online survey. The Solar Energy Industry Alliance (SEIA) and SCHOTT Solar, one of the trend-setting manufacturers of solar energy technologies, commissioned the survey. Quotas are set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population ages 18 and over. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

High resolution photographs of solar installations and technology can be downloaded to accompany this release at www.schott-pictures.net.

About SCHOTT Solar:

SCHOTT Solar’s high quality products exploit the virtually inexhaustible potential of the sun as a renewable source of energy. For this purpose SCHOTT Solar produces important components for photovoltaic applications and solar energy plants. In the photovoltaic industry, the company is one of the few integrated manufacturers of crystalline silicon wafers, cells and modules. Wafer production is mainly carried out through a WACKER SCHOTT Solar joint venture, which ensures the supply of silicon, ensuring long-term growth. Thanks to over 20 years of experience in thin-film technology, SCHOTT Solar also regards itself as one of the industry’s cutting-edge companies. In receiver production for solar power plants with parabolic trough technology, SCHOTT Solar considers itself to be the market and technology leader. The receivers are key components in large-scale power plants that generate electricity from solar energy centrally on the basis of parabolic trough technology and can supply entire cities with power. SCHOTT Solar has production facilities in Germany, the Czech Republic, the USA and Spain. The company’s innovative power and technological expertise date back to the late 1950s. SCHOTT Solar GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of the international SCHOTT technology group. SCHOTT develops special materials, components and systems for the household appliance, pharmaceutical, solar energy, electronics, optical and automotive industries. With around 16,700 employees, the SCHOTT Group generated a worldwide turnover of over 2.1 billion Euros in fiscal year 2006/2007.

About SEIA:

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is the national trade association of solar energy manufacturers, distributors, contractors, installers, architects, consultants, financiers and marketers. Established in 1974, SEIA works to expand the use of solar technologies in the global marketplace, strengthen research and development, remove market barriers, and improve education and outreach for solar. Learn more at www.seia.org.

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Key Data from the SCHOTT Solar BarometerTM

Question 1: “If you became President in 2009 and could choose to provide financial support in ONE of the following energy sources during your term in office, which would you choose?”

  • Solar was picked by 41% of respondents compared to coal (3%), nuclear (10%) and natural gas (15%)
  • Renewable energy (solar or wind) was selected nearly 20 times more than coal.

Question 2: “How important do you think it is for the U.S. to develop and use solar power?

  • More Independents (98%) than Republicans (91%) and Democrats (97%) said that developing and using solar power was important.
  •  Americans across all major political parties voiced an overwhelming support for solar: 69% of Independents, 65% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans said this was extremely important.

Question 3: “What do you think Congress should do – allow solar power investment tax credits to expire, or renew and extend tax credits to encourage the development of solar power?

  •  70% of Americans believe Congress should renew and extend the ITC.
  •  Independent voters feel strongly about this matter, with 74% in favor of renewal vs. 11% in favor of expiration.
  • Only 8% of Americans said Congress ought to allow the ITC to expire.

Question 4: “How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The development of solar power and other renewable energy sources, including the financial support needed, should be a major priority of the federal government.”

  • Nearly eight in ten (77%) Americans say the development and funding of renewable energy should be a “major priority” for the federal government. 
  • More Independents (86%) than Democrats (84%) or Republicans (75%) agree that such support should be a “major priority”.
  • Only one out of ten Americans felt development of solar power should not be a major priority of the federal government.

Fact Sheet on Solar Energy’s Economic Impact and Potential

  • Over 4,000 megawatts of utility-scale concentrating solar power projects under contract – enough to power 1 million homes and provide about $15 billion in wages and investment - will be delayed or cancelled if the ITC is not renewed.

- SEIA Analysis

  • “PV and Wind federal tax credit expiration could result in ~$19 billion of lost investment and ~116,000 of lost employment opportunity.”

­- Navigant Consulting

  • “Solar energy is relevant for almost every country in the world, especially the United States, where conversion of only 2.5% of the nation’s usable area into solar farms would satisfy the entire nation’s energy needs.”

- Scientific American (January, 2008)

  • “Initial estimates for the United States as a whole indicate that PV incentives, including a tax credit of up to $2,000 available under the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 to offset PV system costs, helped to achieve an incredible 83-percent growth in installations in 2007.”

- Johnathan Dorn, Earth Policy

  • “As many as 1 out of 4 workers in the U.S. will be working in the renewable energy or energy efficiency industries by 2030.”

- American Solar Energy Society (ASES)

  • “The Energy and Resources Group at the University of California Berkeley thinks the [green job] boom will deliver… one million new jobs by 2020.”

- CNN Money, Oct. 07

  • “The solar industry is poised for a rapid decline in costs that will make it a mainstream power option in the next few years, according to a new assessment by the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Prometheus Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

- Worldwatch Institute

  • “States with suitably high solar radiation for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants include Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah… Even if we consider only the high-value resources, nearly 7,000 GW of solar generation capacity exist in the U.S. Southwest.”

- American Solar Energy Society (ASES)

  • “By 2050 solar energy could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse emissions.”

- Scientific American (January, 2008)

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