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Attitudes to Renewable Energy Technologies: Driving Change in Early Adopter Markets
2020-09, Mukherjee, Sanghamitra, Meles, Tensay, Ryan, L. (Lisa B.), Healy, Séin, Mooney, Robert, Sharpe, Lindsay, Hayes, Paul
This paper explores the motivations behind the adoption of key renewable energy technologies in an early adopter market. Notwithstanding their social benefits, uptake of electric vehicles, heat pumps, and solar photovoltaic panels remains low, necessitating targeted measures to address this. We conducted a comprehensive survey of a nationally representative sample of Irish households and analysed this rich dataset using pairwise group comparisons and a factor analysis combined with a logit regression model. We found fundamental differences between adopters and non-adopters. Current adopters tend to be younger, more educated, of higher socio-economic status, and more likely to live in newer buildings of generous size than non-adopters. Environmental attitudes are an insufficient predictor of uptake - whilst non-adopters self-report as being more sustainable, adopters believe that their own decisions impact climate change. Importantly, social processes will be instrumental in future uptake. Word-of-mouth recommendation will matter greatly in communicating the use and benefits of technologies as evident from the significantly larger social networks that current adopters enjoy. Using these insights, policy incentives can be designed according to public preferences.