New research sheds light on young adult perceptions of energy, environment and technologies

Charts and a notebook sit on a table next to a computer.

A new survey from Cooperative Insights, the market research arm of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, is shedding light on the perceptions and expectations of young adults about the environment, energy and sustainability.

Cooperative Insights logo

Findings included that the majority of participants, whose ages ranged from 18-35, support renewable energy and the importance of addressing climate change. They also shared that financial considerations influence their decisions about adopting technologies and new energy resources.

“Young adults are interested in partnering with their energy provider on renewables, and they prefer community solar over rooftop solar because it is more affordable,” said Ying Chen, member insights manager for Cooperative Insights. “Participants also have interest in purchasing an electric vehicle but cite cost as the largest barrier.”

Fifty-eight percent of respondents were likely or very likely to purchase an electric vehicle in the next five years. Only 22% reported they were likely or very likely to adopt rooftop solar in the next five years, but 86% expressed interest in buying or leasing a portion of the electricity generated at a utility-sponsored community solar farm.

When considering their electric provider, reliability was most valued with 64% or respondents ranking it as more important than other attributes. Cost value was most important to 15% of participants, and authenticity was most valued for 11%.

The forum also looked at perceptions about smart devices. Data show that respondents who already own smart devices are far more likely to purchase more in the future, while those who do not have little interest in adopting this technology.

Cooperative Insights conducted the research as a co-op member forum using an emerging research methodology that gathers participants to interact with materials and each other online. Co-op member forums provide qualitative information that illustrates in detail how people think and respond.

Cooperatives can sign up for a co-op member forum in 2023 by contacting