New research from the University of Washington says Washington residents support the use of tidal energy, even more so in the Puget Sound area, in one of the first-of-its-kind studies.

The Puget Sound tides are some of the best from which to capture energy, a UW news release said.

The research, published earlier this month, surveyed Washington residents' perceptions and support of tidal energy. The findings indicate people who think climate change is a problem see the benefits of using tidal energy and are more likely to support it.

Beliefs and feelings about tidal energy have not been studied before in the U.S. The study was one of a few to use social science in examining tidal energy worldwide.

The research was conducted by a survey sent to 3,000 Washingtonians — split equally by people living within 15 miles of Puget Sound and those who live in other parts of the state.

Researchers also found that residents are more likely to support a pilot project or the development phase of using tidal energy. Once the turbines are in place and being used, support lessened, the news release said.

"If you are going to have a pilot project, it's really important that it's grid-connected, and producing electricity and powering homes or businesses," said Stacia Dreyer, a postdoctoral researcher at UW's School of Marine and Environmental Affairs and adjunct faculty at Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society. "I think people want to know that a project is effective and that it's benefiting them ― one of those ways is to supply power."

Previous studies have suggested the public is uncertain about using tidal energy, which is one reason investors have hesitated to pursue tidal projects, the news release said.