Public views of the value, potential, and sustainability of energy sources over the last 30 years in the Pacific Northwest, USA
Free (open access)
Volume 7 (2022), Issue 1
48 - 58
Robert L. Mahler
The use of renewable energy has been an important topic in the four Pacific northwestern states for the last 30 years. large, statistically designed public surveys were conducted in the region in 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2020 to determine the perceived sustainability, future viability, and acceptance of the following ten energy sources: biomass, coal, geothermal, hydropower, natural gas, nuclear, oil, solar, tidal, and wind power. The survey questions were identical in all 4 years of the survey. these surveys were delivered by the US Postal service to over 3500 randomly chosen residents in each survey year. The public response rate exceeded 50% in each survey year. Demographic data about age, gender, education level, community size, and state of residence of survey respondents were also collected. The survey data were statistically analyzed. in general, the public was literate identifying the renewable and nonrenewable energy sources as the majority of survey respondents correctly identified biomass, geo- thermal, hydropower, solar, and wind as renewable energy sources. based on survey results, over 75% of Pacific northwest residents considered it important or very important that their energy resources were renewable in 2020. the findings of this study were important because it shows that the public is in line with the scientific community with the goal of greatly reducing energy reliance on C containing nonrenewable energy sources including oil, coal, and natural gas. In summary, (1) the public strongly supports the transformation to a sustainable energy system using primarily renewable energy sources, (2) the use of traditional nonrenewable energy sources like natural gas should not be discouraged in the present; however, they should be phased out over the short and medium terms, (3) solar and wind energy should be significant sources to meet future energy needs in the region, and (4) the renewables including biomass and geothermal have a place in the future energy mix within the Pacific northwest.
hydropower, public opinion, renewable energy, solar energy, sustainable energy, wind energy.