Despite partisan divide, Americans see EVs as better for the environment and want more solar power

Although Americans are closely divided on whether to phase out internal combustion engines in the near future, they do agree more decidedly on the environmental merits of EVs and that we should have more renewable energy—as a couple of recent Pew polls suggest. One survey found that a majority of Americans support more renewable energy, […]

Although Americans are closely divided on whether to phase out internal combustion engines in the near future, they do agree more decidedly on the environmental merits of EVs and that we should have more renewable energy—as a couple of recent Pew polls suggest.

One survey found that a majority of Americans support more renewable energy, with 84% of survey respondents approving of expanding solar farms, and 73% supporting expansion of wind farms.

However, Republican support has dropped, researchers noted, adding that the partisan gaps on expanding solar (20 percentage points) and wind power (29 percentage points) are now larger than at any point since Pew started asking about these energy sources in 2016.

U.S. adult views of renewable energy (from 2021 Pew Research Center survey)

U.S. adult views of renewable energy (from 2021 Pew Research Center survey)

That begs the question of what Republican voters will support instead. The party made a promise to “bring back coal” a major plank of its 2016 election-cycle campaigns, but the retirement of coal power plants now seems to have picked up unstoppable momentum.

Coal has been more expensive than natural gas for years, and renewable energy is now undercutting its costs as well. The open expanse of the American West is also perfect for vast solar arrays.

Views on electric cars are even more muddled. As a different Pew survey from earlier in the month indicated, Americans see EVs as much better for the environment but see them as less reliable and more costly.

So while two-thirds of Americans acknowledged that EVs were better for the environment, only 39% said they are even somewhat likely to consider an EV when making their next vehicle purchase.

U.S. adult views of electric cars (from 2021 Pew Research Center survey)

U.S. adult views of electric cars (from 2021 Pew Research Center survey)

A slim majority also opposed phasing out production of gasoline vehicles, with 51% against and 47% for such a move.

Perhaps a third survey could look at where electric cars and solar power intersect. Homeowners can charge EVs using solar power, independent of the electricity grid, but some companies are also developing vehicles that aim to use solar panels to sidestep charging completely.

The Sono Sion is covered with solar panels and could get an estimated 21 miles a day from the sun, its maker claims, while the Aptera Sol is claiming that daily drivers can “never charge” by relying on solar power.