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Ninety-five percent of U.S. energy executives expect continued research and development (R&D) investment in alternative energy projects this year, according to a new survey conducted by the KPMG Global Energy Institute.

Fifty-five percent anticipate investments will remain unchanged; however, the report notes that the percentage of respondents predicting a 10% increase in R&D investment nearly tripled, from 11% in 2012 to 30% this year. Additionally, 9% expect an 11-20% increase, and 1% expect investments will jump by 20% or more.

KPMG's annual energy survey, which polled more than 100 senior executives in the U.S. representing global energy companies, also gauged which energy sources companies will target most for investment over the next three years. Although executives most frequently cited shale gas and oil (54%), solar energy and wind energy received 29% and 25% of the vote, respectively.

However, executives cited a number of significant challenges to increasing renewable generation on their systems, including the cost of competitive non-renewable energy (50%), the cost of a new system (39%) and the complexity of renewable project financing and transmission (28%).

Another main finding of the KPMG report is that 62% of respondents think the U.S. can attain energy independence by 2030 through the pursuit of domestic production and renewable energy development - up from 52% in last year's survey.

"What is exciting about these findings is that it demonstrates the industry's intent to explore all options, despite barriers regarding cost and complexities, to provide a diverse energy matrix to meet the world's future energy needs," says John Kunasek, national sector leader for energy and natural resources at KPMG LLP.

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