PV in Blueskin: Drivers, barriers and enablers of uptake of household photovoltaic systems in the Blueskin communities, Otago, New Zealand

Geoff King, Janet Stephenson, Rebecca Ford

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

• Householders in the Blueskin area near Dunedin show a strong interest in installing PV. To explore the reasons for this interest, eighteen interviews were undertaken in late 2013 with people who had either installed PV or were interested in doing so. Four interviews were also held with people involved in supporting the community’s
energy initiatives.
• Analysis of the interviews was aided by two theories – Rogers’ model of technology adoption, and the Energy Cultures Framework, which describes an individuals’ “energy culture” according to their material culture (i.e. the physical things they have or own), their practices (i.e. what they do with their energy related technologies) and their norms (i.e. what their think about these energy related technologies and issues).
• The ‘energy culture’ displayed by interviewees typically had the following characteristics:
- Material culture – home ownership, building and site suited to PV
- Practices – already use energy carefully, sustainable living, energy literacy, actively seeking information on PV, and (for some) technological competence
- Norms – support for solar energy, desire for partial or full independence from the electricity grid, desire for greater financial control, lack of trust in power companies, confidence in the technology, environmental concern, perceived long-term financial benefits of PV
• The interviewees fell into two main clusters in how they sought information about PV.
- ‘Hunters’ actively sought technical information from a wide variety of external sources
- ‘Gatherers’ tended to rely on ‘hunters’ and other local sources for their information.
• External influences that were driving interest in PV included: the improving affordability of PV units, the rising cost of electricity, the cost of grid connection for new builds, increasing visibility of PV, information sharing within community networks, availability of tradespeople with skills in PV installation, and overseas experience in seeing PV more widely used. Influences that related specifically to the activities of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT) included: facilitating supplier/installer relationships, providing an information source about PV, building energy literacy, and helping develop technical skills.
• The main barrier to uptake was the upfront cost of investing in PV. A few mentioned the lack of financial incentives (e.g. subsidies) and the speed of technological development and dropping prices, meaning they were unsure if they should wait a bit longer to invest.
• Motivations for adoption included perceived financial control and long-term benefits; enabling a degree of independence from power companies and rising electricity prices; interest in the technology for its own sake; and environmental concern.
• A key finding of the research was that the activities of the BRCT, together with other initiatives by community members, initiated or supported enablers that reduce the barriers to uptake. These included collaboration to reduce the costs of purchase and installation, provision of information and advice, building energy literacy, enhancing technological competence, and support from social networks.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOtago, NZ
Number of pages44
ISBN (Electronic)9780473294472
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

Keywords

  • Blueskin
  • photovoltaic systems
  • New Zealand
  • household photovoltaic systems
  • photovoltaic uptake
  • PV barriers
  • PV influences

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