Challenges addressed

The use of photovoltaic (PV) systems on residential buildings is a key element in the societal transition to renewable energies. However, despite economic and ecological benefits, many homeowners struggle to adopt PV due to technical complexity, administrative burden, and cognitive biases such as inertia. In light of previous studies suggesting that peer interactions may substantially help the diffusion of PV, and drawing on social contagion theory, the present project takes a qualitative action research approach to study such peer effects in solar parties. Solar parties are community-oriented information events hosted by local volunteers who already adopted PV, usually supported by governments, targeting neighbors who have not yet adopted PV.

Objectives

The central goals of the project are:

  • a better understanding of the micro-level mechanisms underlying peer effects in PV diffusion, and
  • formulating actionable recommendations and best practices on organising solar parties for governments.

What are the expected outputs of this project?

The project team, consisting of Oliver Neumann, Claudia Binder, Gilles Chatelain, Maria Anna Hecher, Pascale-Catherine Kirklies and Mert Duygan, is working on the following outputs:

  • To get in-depth qualitative findings on peer effects in PV diffusion in the context of solar parties. This includes measuring the influence of solar parties on individuals' attitudes towards PV and actual behavioral adoption indicators (e.g. contacting installation companies).
  • To disseminate the results of the research on social media platforms like LinkedIn, X, and YouTube, as well as in ascientific publication. An event for all interested stakeholders will also be organised. 


Milestones

  • June and July 2023

    Development of theoretical model

  • July to October 2023

    Organisation of two solar parties in Switzerland and data collection through interviews with participants

  • November 2023 to January 2024

    Data analysis I

  • January to May 2024

    Writing and publishing - One peer-reviewed open access publication in highly ranked journal

  • February and March 2024

    Data collection & analysis II

  • April 2024

    Dissemination in academia - Conference paper and presentation

  • April and May 2024

    Dissemination in practice - National and international communication strategy

Funding

This project is financed by CLIMACT.

Principal investigators

Prof.
Prof. Oliver Neumann

UNIL FSSP

Prof.
Prof. Claudia Binder

Dean
EPFL ENAC

Sustainable Development Goals

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