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For Third Consecutive Year, National Poll Shows More Than 9 out of 10 Americans Want Solar Now

(Los Angeles) – On the eve of Solar Power International, North America’s largest solar energy trade show, a new national poll shows that the vast majority of Americans overwhelmingly support development and funding of solar energy, and their support for solar has remained consistent over the last three years. These and other findings were reported today in the 2010 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted by independent polling firm Kelton Research.

The survey found that 94 percent of Americans think it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar energy. This strong support for solar remains unchanged since Americans were asked the same questions in the August 2009 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (92 percent) and June 2008 SCHOTT Solar Barometer (94 percent). (The difference is within the margin of error for these polls.)

This support for solar power is consistent across political party affiliation with 92 percent of Republicans, 98 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Independents agreeing that it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power.

Furthermore, four out of five (80 percent of) Americans feel that Congress should reallocate federal subsidies away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy industries. Broken down by party affiliation, 86% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans and 81% of Independents feel this way. Americans understand the urgency of growing the solar industry themselves; nearly half (49 percent) of Americans currently considering solar power options for their home or business plan to make a decision in less than one year.

“For the third consecutive year, the SCHOTT Solar Barometer highlights American’s wide and growing support for solar energy,” said Dr. Gerald Fine, President and CEO of SCHOTT North America. “We’re dedicated to delivering clean reliable energy and have created hundreds of green jobs manufacturing solar products here in the U.S. These findings show that the vast majority of Americans share our goal of promoting and growing the new green industry in the U.S.”

“The message from the public is very clear - WE WANT MORE SOLAR ENERGY! According to this poll, solar energy is more popular than puppy dogs or ice cream. It is time for policymakers to listen to their constituents and enact measures to rapidly increase our use of solar,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “As we debate many crucial social and economic issues during this midterm election, lawmakers should consider solar, not as an issue, but as an industry they can count on to create jobs, improve U.S. competitiveness, bolster our national security and reduce harmful pollution. It’s time for Congress to see what most Americans already see; that solar is working for America today.”

When asked to choose one energy source to financially support if they were President, 45 percent of Americans would opt for solar over other sources such as wind (19 percent), natural gas (12 percent), nuclear (12 percent) and coal (2 percent).

Americans also understand the growing impact the solar industry is having on the U.S. economy and job creation. More than half (51 percent) of Americans said they would choose a job in the solar industry if they were to start working in the renewable energy sector. This was more than wind (20 percent), geothermal (9 percent), biofuels (9 percent) or hydropower (8 percent).

Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans indicated they would be willing to pay more for solar energy. In fact, the cost of solar is already on par with traditional fossil fuel options in several markets, and continues to drop as the industry scales up.

About the Survey’s Methodology
The SCHOTT Solar Barometer Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between September 27 and October 4, 2010 using an email invitation and an online survey. SCHOTT Solar, one of the trend-setting manufacturers of solar energy technologies, and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) 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.

About SCHOTT Solar:
SCHOTT Solar, with its high quality products, enables the potential of the sun as a nearly inexhaustible source of energy to be utilized. SCHOTT Solar produces important components for photovoltaic applications and solar energy power plants. In the production of receivers for solar power plants, SCHOTT Solar sees itself as a market and technology leader. Receivers from SCHOTT Solar are key components in large-scale power plants that generate electricity from solar energy centrally on the basis of parabolic trough technology and are able to supply entire cities with power. SCHOTT Solar has production facilities in the USA, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Spain. The innovative power and technological competence of the company date back to the late 1950s. SCHOTT Solar is a wholly owned subsidiary of the international SCHOTT group. SCHOTT develops special materials, components and systems for the household appliance, pharmaceutical, solar energy, electronics, optical and automotive industries. With approximately 17,000 employees producing worldwide sales of approximately $3 billion. In North America, SCHOTT’s holding company SCHOTT Corporation and its subsidiary SCHOTT North America, Inc. and their affiliates employ about 3,000 people in 14 production operations with 6 sales offices.

About SEIA:
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is working to build a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org.

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Key Data from the 2010 SCHOTT Solar BarometerTM

Question 1: If you were President of the United States 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 45 percent of respondents followed by wind (19%), natural gas (12%), nuclear (12%) and coal (2%). These figures remain consistent with 2009 findings (solar, 43%; wind, 17%; natural gas, 12%; nuclear, 10%; and coal, 2%).

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

  • Ninety-four percent of Americans think it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power (60% thought it was extremely important). This was comparable to 2009 findings (92% thought it was important) and 2008 findings (94% thought it was important).
  • This finding was consistent along political party affiliations. American across all major political parties voiced similar support for solar: 94 percent of Independents, 98 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans said this was important.

Question 3: If you are currently considering solar power options for your home or business, about how long do you think it will take for you to make the decision to adopt solar power? Please answer in years. Your best guess is fine.

  • Nearly half (49%) of Americans considering solar options plan to make a decision about adopting solar in less than one year.
  • Ninety-four percent of those currently considering this option expect to adopt solar within the next five years. This is a significant increase from 2009 findings (70%).

Question 4: How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Congress should consider reallocating federal subsidies that currently support fossil fuels to instead support solar energy.

  • Eighty percent of Americans agrees that Congress should consider reallocating federal subsidies that currently support fossil fuels to instead support solar energy. Thirty-three percent strongly agreed.

Question 5: If you were to start a job in a renewable energy industry, which of the following fields would you prefer?

  • More than half (51%) of Americans would choose to work in solar over other renewable energy industries.

Question 6: Would you be willing to pay more for solar power as a utility for your home or business if it meant helping to reduce the nation's dependency on coal, oil or nuclear power sources?

  • Nearly half (49%) of Americans would be willing to pay more for solar power to help reduce the nation’s dependency on coal, or nuclear power.
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