Determinants of households’ decisions to invest in residential solar photovoltaic systems and implications for policy

Item Type Thesis (Doctoral)

By investing in a solar photovoltaic (PV) system for their house, households can provide an important contribution to decarbonise our economy. As traditional financial incentives for renewables are being phased out, a nuanced understanding of private individuals’ intention to adopt solar systems is key to accelerating the market uptake of this technology. This dissertation sheds light on increasingly relevant but still underexplored drivers of residential solar investments. It includes three empirical studies based on two discrete choice experiment surveys answered by Swiss homeowners. The first study investigates to what extent aesthetic features of solar systems impact homeowners’ willingness to adopt solar. It identifies a premium and a value segment of likely solar adopters with distinct preferences for product aesthetic features and different price sensitivity. The second study investigates the impact of perceived investment risk on households’ solar investment decisions. It suggests that the risk connected to policy uncertainty negatively affects their willingness to invest in solar, whereas households are rather insensitive to market risk. The third study investigates the role of self-consumption (or energy “prosumption”), by assessing how much potential residential solar adopters are willing to pay for increasing their energy autonomy, and why. It shows that homeowners interested in solar are willing to pay a substantial premium to generate their own power, even when this does not financially pay off, and no matter how environmentally friendly grid electricity is. The studies suggest three factors that could accelerate the deployment of residential solar systems: product differentiation that caters for both premium and value solar customers, low perceived policy uncertainty on incentive schemes, an increase in the degree of energy autonomy allowed by solar systems and in the salience of this product feature in the purchase process.

Authors Petrovich, Beatrice
Referent Wüstenhagen, Rolf (Prof. Dr.) (Referent) & Denny, Eleanor (Prof. PhD) (Koreferent)
Language English
Keywords Sonnenenergie; Haushalt; Investition; Risiko; Förderungsprogramm; EDIS-5067
Subjects economics
HSG Classification not classified
HSG Profile Area None
Date 2021
Publisher Universität St. Gallen
Place of Publication St.Gallen
Additional Information Bosetti, Valentina (Prof. PhD) (Dissertationskomitee)
Depositing User Ruedi Lindegger
Date Deposited 23 Feb 2021
Last Modified 02 Mar 2021 08:13


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Petrovich, Beatrice: Determinants of households’ decisions to invest in residential solar photovoltaic systems and implications for policy. Thesis, 2021.

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