Prosumer-Centric Communication for Solar PV Diffusion

Numerous environmental threats are motivating the transition to a sustainable energy system. Buildings are a major contributor in that they represent 39% of final energy consumption in Sweden while simultaneously providing a great potential for solar photovoltaics (PV). To adopt PV, building owners must navigate a complex landscape of technology options, suppliers, and economic uncertainties, challenging their decision making process.

The goal of this project is to develop the most effective techniques from behavioral economics to create a scalable, prosumer-centric communications framework. A design thinking approach will be used to identify the needs and barriers from multiple stakeholder’s viewpoints, followed by an agile prototyping phase to test ideas and techniques. The resulting framework aims to deliver a scalable method of communication that provides better heuristics to users for complex decision making while nudging them towards sustainable choices and greater PV adoption.

Funded by: Energimyndigheten in the Design for Energieffektiv Vardag program

Time period: August 2019 – December 2021

Project partners: KTH Energy Technology, Beteendelabbet, Liseberg och Örby Slott Villaförening

Background

One of the most promising techniques for increasing renewable energy generation is rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV). The Swedish government’s energy goals have PV providing up to 10% of electricity in 2040, a 30x increase from today. Solar PV installations are growing rapidly, due primarily to generous state subsidies, rapidly declining prices, and strong public interest. However, the subsidies are expensive and being questioned as the most effective use of state funds while prices are stabilizing. Even though values and attitudes towards environmentally positive technologies are strong in Sweden, there is a risk that the extrinsic motivators (i.e. subsidies) are hiding the so-called value-action gap. For successful diffusion of solar PV, communication and education techniques will need to be more user centric in order to build stronger intrinsic motivations towards adoption.

Aim and objectives

The societal goal of this project is to increase solar PV installations in Swedish buildings beyond the subsidy driven, early-adopter phase. Our project helps accomplish this by identifying the most effective techniques from behavioral economics to create a scalable, user-centric communications framework. Reaching this goal requires meeting the needs of multiple stakeholders, which will be treated with a design thinking approach. The resulting framework aims to deliver effective communication methods that provide better heuristics to users for complex decision making while nudging them towards sustainable choices. It also aims to give energy companies a scalable method of sales communication that reduces customer acquisition costs, further enhancing adoption potential. The design research of this project may also lead to new interaction points between companies and customers where innovative business models can emerge.

Outcomes

Upon completion, this project’s primary deliverable is a scalable framework for prosumer centric communications about PV investment. Results will be published at multiple levels, from popular science magazines and local conferences, to international scientific journals.

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Project contact persons

Belongs to: Energy Technology
Last changed: Feb 08, 2020