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Determinants of Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Energy Technology Adoption: An Agent-Based Modeling Approach



Energy technology adoption is a complex process, involving the social, behavioral, and economic factors that impact individual decision-making. This paper uses an empirical, geographic information system (GIS)-integrated agent-based model of solar adoption to explore the importance of using empirical household-level data and of incorporating economic as well as social and behavioral factors on model outcomes. Our goal is to identify features of the model that are most critical to successful prediction of the temporal, spatial, and demographic patterns that characterize the technology adoption process for solar. Agent variables, topology, and environment are derived from detailed and comprehensive real-world data between 2004-2013 in Austin (Texas, USA). Four variations of the model are developed, each with a different level of complexity and empirical characterization. We find that while an explicit focus only on the financial aspects of the solar-adoption decision performs well in predicting the rate and scale of adoption, accounting for agent-level attitude and social interactions are critical for predicting spatial and demographic patterns of adoption with high accuracy.

The University of Texas at Austin