New Harris Poll finds public perception of biomass held steady

By Erin Voegele | March 28, 2014

A recently released Harris Poll addresses public perception of a variety of energy technologies, including biomass energy. The results show that many U.S. adults are unfamiliar with biomass energy and its benefits.

Within its results, the company called biomass the “biggest question mark” on the survey, as 61 percent of adults surveyed said they were not at all sure of its risks or benefits. Approximately 29 percent, however, said they feel the benefits of biomass outweigh its risks. Only 9 percent of those polled said they believe the risks of biomass outweigh its benefits.

Information released on the poll also included historical data gathered in 2012, 2011 and 2009. That data shows public perceptions of biomass have remained largely unchanged in recent years. Between 57 and 60 percent of respondents in 2012, 2011 and 2009 indicated they were unsure of the risks or benefits associated with biomass. During those same years, between 28 and 30 percent said they feel the benefits outweigh the risks. In all three years, 12 percent also indicated they though the risks of biomass outweigh its benefits.

On a regional basis, 35 percent of respondents from the West region of the U.S. said the benefits of biomass outweigh its risks, along with 33 percent of those from the Midwest. In the East and South regions of the country, only 25 percent and 26 percent respectively indicated they believe the benefits of biomass outweigh the risks.

When the generation of the respondent was taken into account, 32 percent of those in Gen X (ages 37 to 48) said the benefits of biomass outweigh the risks, along with 31 percent of Echo Boomers (ages 18-36). Only 29 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 49-67) and 22 percent of Matures (ages 68+) said the same.

The Harris Poll also measured public perception of solar, wind, natural gas, geothermal, coal, and nuclear energy. According to the company, 2,266 adults were surveyed online between Feb. 12 and Feb. 17. A full copy of the results issued by Harris Interactive is available here.