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Title: Evolution of consumer information preferences with market maturity in solar PV adoption

Abstract

Residential adoption of solar photovoltaics (PV) is spreading rapidly, supported by policy initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels. Potential adopters navigate increasingly complex decision-making landscapes in their path to adoption. Much is known about the individual-level drivers of solar PV diffusion that steer adopters through this process, but relatively little is known about the evolution of these drivers as solar PV markets mature. By understanding the evolution of emerging solar PV markets over time, stakeholders in the diffusion of solar PV can increase policy effectiveness and reduce costs. This analysis uses survey data to compare two adjacent markets across a range of relevant characteristics, then models changes in the importance of local vs cosmopolitan information sources by combining theory relating market maturity to adopter behavior with event-history techniques. In younger markets, earlier, innovative adoptions that are tied to a preference for cosmopolitan information sources are more prevalent than expected, suggesting a frustrated demand for solar PV that segues into adoptions fueled by local information preferences contemporary with similar adoptions in older markets. Furthermore, the analysis concludes with policy recommendations to leverage changing consumer information preferences as markets mature.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2]
  1. The Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
  2. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Washington, D.C. (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1367777
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1373265
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-6A20-68944
Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
Grant/Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308; XGG-3-23326-01
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 12; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
Publisher:
IOP Publishing
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; solar photovoltaic; information channels; technology adoption; decision making; diffusion of innovations; soft costs

Citation Formats

Reeves, D. Cale, Rai, Varun, and Margolis, Robert. Evolution of consumer information preferences with market maturity in solar PV adoption. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa6da6.
Reeves, D. Cale, Rai, Varun, & Margolis, Robert. Evolution of consumer information preferences with market maturity in solar PV adoption. United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa6da6.
Reeves, D. Cale, Rai, Varun, and Margolis, Robert. Tue . "Evolution of consumer information preferences with market maturity in solar PV adoption". United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa6da6.
@article{osti_1367777,
title = {Evolution of consumer information preferences with market maturity in solar PV adoption},
author = {Reeves, D. Cale and Rai, Varun and Margolis, Robert},
abstractNote = {Residential adoption of solar photovoltaics (PV) is spreading rapidly, supported by policy initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels. Potential adopters navigate increasingly complex decision-making landscapes in their path to adoption. Much is known about the individual-level drivers of solar PV diffusion that steer adopters through this process, but relatively little is known about the evolution of these drivers as solar PV markets mature. By understanding the evolution of emerging solar PV markets over time, stakeholders in the diffusion of solar PV can increase policy effectiveness and reduce costs. This analysis uses survey data to compare two adjacent markets across a range of relevant characteristics, then models changes in the importance of local vs cosmopolitan information sources by combining theory relating market maturity to adopter behavior with event-history techniques. In younger markets, earlier, innovative adoptions that are tied to a preference for cosmopolitan information sources are more prevalent than expected, suggesting a frustrated demand for solar PV that segues into adoptions fueled by local information preferences contemporary with similar adoptions in older markets. Furthermore, the analysis concludes with policy recommendations to leverage changing consumer information preferences as markets mature.},
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/aa6da6},
journal = {Environmental Research Letters},
number = 7,
volume = 12,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Jul 04 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Tue Jul 04 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1088/1748-9326/aa6da6

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  • Residential adoption of solar photovoltaics (PV) is spreading rapidly, supported by policy initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels. Potential adopters navigate increasingly complex decision-making landscapes in their path to adoption. Much is known about the individual-level drivers of solar PV diffusion that steer adopters through this process, but relatively little is known about the evolution of these drivers as solar PV markets mature. By understanding the evolution of emerging solar PV markets over time, stakeholders in the diffusion of solar PV can increase policy effectiveness and reduce costs. This analysis uses survey data to compare two adjacent marketsmore » across a range of relevant characteristics, then models changes in the importance of local vs cosmopolitan information sources by combining theory relating market maturity to adopter behavior with event-history techniques. In younger markets, earlier, innovative adoptions that are tied to a preference for cosmopolitan information sources are more prevalent than expected, suggesting a frustrated demand for solar PV that segues into adoptions fueled by local information preferences contemporary with similar adoptions in older markets. Furthermore, the analysis concludes with policy recommendations to leverage changing consumer information preferences as markets mature.« less
  • The solar photovoltaic (PV) installation industry comprises thousands of firms around the world who collectively installed nearly 200 million panels in 2015. Spatial analysis of the emerging industry has received considerable attention from the literature, especially on the demand side concerning peer effects and adopter clustering. However this research area does not include similarly sophisticated spatial analysis on the supply side of the installation industry. The lack of understanding of the spatial structure of the PV installation industry leaves PV market research to rely on jurisdictional lines, such as counties, to define geographic PV markets. We develop an approach thatmore » uses the spatial distribution of installers' activity to define geographic boundaries for PV markets. Our method is useful for PV market research and applicable in the contexts of other industries. We use our approach to demonstrate that the PV industry in the United States is spatially heterogeneous. Despite the emergence of some national-scale PV installers, installers are largely local and installer communities are unique from one region to the next. The social implications of the spatial heterogeneity of the emerging PV industry involve improving understanding of issues such as market power, industry consolidation, and how much choice potential adopters have.« less
  • In this report the Consumer Energy Council has examined a number of basic issues affecting consumer assurance in the solar market. A general framework has been established to specify the role of consumer assurance as it relates both to government activity and a new consumer product industry. The available empirical evidence has been reviewed to identify the actual needs for consumer assurance in the solar market. By synthesizing the work of the SOLCAN Planning Project participants we have identified both the general thrust of existing consumer assurance mechanisms in the states and the direction that efforts to improve and expandmore » those mechanisms are likely to take. Finally, several brief recommendations for combining the pieces of consumer assurance into an effective overall framework have been put forward.« less
  • The price of electricity supplied from home rooftop photo voltaic (PV) solar cells has fallen below the retail price of grid electricity in some areas. A number of residential households have an economic incentive to install rooftop PV systems and reduce their purchases of electricity from the grid. A significant portion of the costs incurred by utility companies are fixed costs which must be recovered even as consumption falls. Electricity rates must increase in order for utility companies to recover fixed costs from shrinking sales bases. Increasing rates will, in turn, result in even more economic incentives for customers tomore » adopt rooftop PV. In this paper, we model this feedback between PV adoption and electricity rates and study its impact on future PV penetration and net-metering costs. We find that the most important parameter that determines whether this feedback has an effect is the fraction of customers who adopt PV in any year based solely on the money saved by doing so in that year, independent of the uncertainties of future years. These uncertainties include possible changes in rate structures such as the introduction of connection charges, the possibility of PV prices dropping significantly in the future, possible changes in tax incentives, and confidence in the reliability and maintainability of PV. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.« less