NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumers around the world overwhelmingly support the rollout of renewable energy, but many have mistaken views about "green" products, according to a survey conducted by TNS Gallup for Vestas Wind Systems.
The survey, which polled 31,000 consumers in 26 countries in May, was designed to show companies how they could link their image to their customers' views on climate change and renewable energy.
But the poll also showed that many consumers were ill-informed about companies' environmental impacts, as well as the availability of renewable power.
Consumers viewed car makers, such as BMW AG and Volkswagen, as the most climate friendly, followed by technology companies, consumer goods makers retailers and food and beverage companies.
"Vehicles powered by fossil fuel account for a significant part of global CO2 emissions, yet automobile manufacturers ... have acted to persuade consumer opinion, for instance with advertising claims about the energy efficiency of gasoline or diesel powered vehicles," Vestas said in statement about the survey.
The poll showed that 79 percent of the consumers surveyed would view as "positive" the companies that primarily use wind energy, with only 4 percent viewing that as "negative."
Vestas is the world's leading maker of wind turbines, but the company has struggled in the past 18 months because of difficulty in financing new wind parks and rising competition from Chinese manufacturers, forcing it to cut jobs.
A strong 90 percent of global consumers backed an increase in renewable energy, while 15 percent said nuclear power sources should increase and 8 percent said use of fossil fuels use should rise.
Consumers in China were strongly in favor of increasing renewable energy sources, with 95 percent of those surveyed supporting it, well above the 77 percent in the United States who favored it.
But 72 percent of Chinese consumers also believed they had access to green electricity -- a figure far higher than reality.
Coal remains by far the largest source of Chinese power generation, according to International Energy Agency, even though the wind industry there is growing rapidly.
Half the consumers surveyed said they would be willing to pay higher prices for products made using renewable energy, while 45 percent said they would not pay more.
Developing nations' consumers were the most willing to pay extra for products produced using renewable energy, with 72 percent of those in China, Chile and India saying they would spend more.
Reporting by Matt Daily, editing by Bernard Orr