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Effective Information Channels for Reducing Costs of Environmentally-Friendly Technologies: Evidence from Residential PV Markets

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Abstract:

Realizing the environmental benefits of solar photovoltaics (PV) will require reducing costs associated with perception, informational gaps and technological uncertainties. To identify opportunities to decrease costs associated with residential PV adoption, in this letter we use multivariate regression models to analyze a unique, household-level dataset of PV adopters in Texas (USA) to systematically quantify the effect of different information channels on aspiring PV adopters’ decision-making. We find that the length of the decision period depends on the business model, such as whether the system was bought or leased, and on special opportunities to learn, such as the influence of other PV owners in the neighborhood. This influence accrues passively through merely witnessing PV systems in the neighborhood, increasing confidence and motivation, as well as actively through peer-to-peer communications. Using these insights we propose a new framework to provide public information on PV that could drastically reduce barriers to PV adoption, thereby accelerating its market penetration and environmental benefits. This framework could also serve as a model for other distributed generation technologies.

 
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The University of Texas at Austin

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