Solar power is contagious

October 18, 2012

People are more likely to install a solar panel on their home if their neighbors have one, according to a Yale and New York University study in the journal Marketing Science.

The researchers studied clusters of solar installations throughout California from January 2001 to December 2011 and found that residents of a particular zip code are more likely to install solar panels if they already exist in that zip code and on their street.

"We looked at the influence that the number of cumulative adoptions--the number of people who already installed solar panels in a zip code--had on the probability there would be a new adoption in that zip code," said Kenneth Gillingham, the study's co-author and assistant professor of economics at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "Our approach controls for a variety of other possible explanations, including clustering of environmental preferences or marketing activity."

They calculated that 10 extra installations in a zip code increase the probability of an adoption by 7.8 percent. If there is a 10 percent increase in the total number of people with solar panels in a zip code--the "installed base"--there will be a 54 percent increase in the adoption of solar panels.

"These results provide clear evidence of a statistically and economically significant effect," said Bryan Bollinger, the other co-author and assistant professor of marketing at New York University Stern School of Business.

The study also shows that the visibility of the panels and word-of-mouth led to larger installations. "If my neighbor installs a solar panel and tells me he's saving money and he's really excited about it, it's likely I'll go ahead and do the same thing," said Gillingham. "Then there are others who'll install because they don't want to be one-upped by their neighbors."

The researchers found that white males between the ages of 45 and 65 who have a 30-minute commute and home repairs were associated with higher adoption rates. Gillingham suggested that a disproportionate number of engineers working in Silicon Valley may explain the result. In addition, larger households and people with longer commutes were more exposed to solar installations, thus more likely to adopt the technology, compared to people who carpooled and lived in smaller households.

"These findings have clear implications for marketers who are striving to reduce the high cost of consumer acquisition in the solar photovoltaic market," said Bollinger.

In January 2006 the California Public Utilities Commission established the California Solar Initiative, a $3.3 billion, 10-year rebate program encouraging the installation of 3,000 megawatts of solar infrastructure over the ensuing decade. These subsidies, according to the authors, have increased the number of solar installations to 17,000 in 2010 from fewer than 1,000 in 2001. The authors used the 85,046 requested residential installations during that time in their calculations.

"Our finding of an increasing effect of new installations in a zip code suggests that targeting marketing efforts in areas that already have some installations is a promising strategy," said Gillingham.
-end-
The paper, "Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels," is available at http://mktsci.journal.informs.org/content/early/2012/09/20/mksc.1120.0727.abstract.

Yale University

Related Solar Panels Articles from Brightsurf:

Multi-institutional team extracts more energy from sunlight with advanced solar panels
Researchers working to maximize solar panel efficiency said layering advanced materials atop traditional silicon is a promising path to eke more energy out of sunlight.

Thin-skinned solar panels printed with inkjet
Efficient, yet exceptionally light organic solar cells created entirely by inkjet printing.

Green energy and better crops: Tinted solar panels could boost farm incomes
Researchers have demonstrated the use of tinted, semi-transparent solar panels to generate electricity and produce nutritionally-superior crops simultaneously, bringing the prospect of higher incomes for farmers and maximising use of agricultural land.

NREL research points to strategies for recycling of solar panels
Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have conducted the first global assessment into the most promising approaches to end-of-life management for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Merging solar cell and liquid battery produces long-lasting solar storage
Combining liquid chemical battery technology with perovskite solar cells has led to a new record in solar energy conversion within a single device.

Merging solar cell and liquid battery produces efficient, long-lasting solar storage
Chemists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and their collaborators have created a highly efficient and long-lasting solar flow battery, a way to generate, store and redeliver renewable electricity from the sun in one device.

Trapping the Sun: New thin-film technology uses sustainable components for solar panels
Most common thin-film solar panels consist of expensive rare-earth elements like indium and gallium, or highly toxic metals like cadmium.

"Bright spot" during COVID-19: Increased power from solar panels thanks to cleaner air
During the COVID-19 pandemic, one unexpected outcome in cities around the world has been a reduction in air pollution, as people stay home to avoid contracting the coronavirus.

Double-sided solar panels that follow the sun prove most cost effective
Solar power systems with double-sided (bifacial) solar panels--which collect sunlight from two sides instead of one--and single-axis tracking technology that tilts the panels so they can follow the sun are the most cost effective to date, researchers report in the journal Joule.

Moisture-sucking gels give solar panels the chills
Polymers that absorb water from the atmosphere can make it easier to run photovoltaic devices in hot climates.

Read More: Solar Panels News and Solar Panels Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.