The survey indicates that 67% of Americans would be willing to pay more for their monthly electricity bill if their utility increased its use of renewable energy, compared with 53% who said last year that they would be amenable to a premium.

Of positively-inclined respondents, 49% said they would be willing to pay at least US$5 more each month for an increased amount of renewable energy, up from 35% at that level in the 2009 survey. Those not willing to pay more dropped from 41% in 2009 to 31% in 2010.

Three-quarters of respondents felt it was very important that the current US energy bill address increasing renewable energy (75%) and decreasing US dependence on foreign oil (73%).

Increasing nuclear power and increasing offshore drilling were the least important issues: 33% regard increasing nuclear as important, and 32% say increasing offshore drilling is important.

Perception of solar energy is above actual levels

Most Americans cannot identify the correct levels of solar energy used in the USA.

In the latest survey, 13% claim to be unaware of how much energy consumption is sourced from solar energy, compared to 28% in 2009. Most believe that US solar energy consumption is greater than 5% (it is less than 2%) and, on average, Americans perceive 18% of US energy coming from solar power.

The survey was conducted for Applied Materials and telephone-surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 1000 adults. Renewable energy was defined as energy generated from sources that are naturally replenished, such as sun, wind, tides and geothermal heat.

The survey was fielded in early June, and claims a margin of error of +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level.

“Americans are becoming more aware of the need for responsible energy solutions, like solar power, and increasingly want their government to drive policy and investment aimed at finding alternative ways to power our homes and economy,” explains Charles Gay of Applied Solar, a division of Applied Materials.

“With the right energy legislation in place, the US could reap the benefits of one of the biggest economic job engines of this century - the clean energy revolution.”

Applied Materials supplies equipment to manufacture solar panels, as well as semiconductors and flat panel displays. It solar strategy is to bring significant change to the industry, by enabling lower cost-per-watt solutions for solar cell manufacturing, with the goal of making solar a meaningful contributor to the global energy supply.