GLOBAL - The US will continue to support solar energy production despite a recent spate of bankruptcies among solar manufacturers, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

A survey conducted for the association found 82% public support for continued sector subsidies via federal tax credits and grants similar to those subsidising traditional energy sources such as natural gas and coal.

The annual survey found Democrats 14% more likely than Republicans (80%) to agree that it is important for the US to develop and use solar energy, with support from independents (90%) falling between the two.

Specifically on the issue of subsidies, 71% of Republicans, 82% of independents and 87% of Democrats describe themselves as in favour of some form of federal support, with 39% of those polled prioritising solar subsidies over those for natural gas (21%), wind (12%) and nuclear energy (9%).

The survey comes as the industry tries to reassure investors following the demise of small-scale solar producers.

Recent attrition in the sector includes the collapse of Spectrawatt, which in August filed for bankruptcy and announced that it would auction its assets before the end of the year.

The same month commercial solar panel producer Solyndra announced that global economic and industry conditions had forced it to suspend operations.

In its subsequent take on the Solyndra collapse, SEIA pointed to a 69% growth in the US solar industry in 2010.

It said: "The Solyndra bankruptcy is not indicative of the health of the US solar industry, and, as with any competitive and dynamic market, some companies will prosper and others will fail.

It added that Solyndra's business had been "unsustainable" in the face of cheaper competition.