Network dynamics of solar PV adoption: Reconsidering flat tax-credits and influencer seeding for inclusive renewable energy access in Albany county, New York

Aarthi Sundaram*, Juliana Gonçalves, Amineh Ghorbani, Trivik Verma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Governments often use price-based policies such as tax-subsidies and rebates to encourage households to shift to renewable energy sources like rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV). These policies, however, have primarily benefited high-income homeowners, leaving others behind. This paper proposes leveraging social networks’ influence on attitudes and perceptions to design more equitable solar PV adoption programs. Using data from Albany county (New York State, USA) we develop an Agent-based model, integrating a novel implementation of circles of influence into the theory of planned behavior. We test two policy categories (generic and targeted) under two network scenarios (integrated and segregated). Resulting solar PV adoption rates are evaluated using egalitarian, utilitarian and cost metrics to analyze policy impact on different income groups. Our findings indicate that network structure significantly influences adoption rates within income groups. Low-income groups in segregated networks can experience higher adoption driven by positive attitudes towards solar PV, while high-income groups in segregated networks may face poor policy performance despite higher affordability. Seeding policies and information dissemination through influential network members may not necessarily improve adoption rates, as trust can a more important role. The study underscores the importance of trusted information sources in influencing adoption decisions. The insights gained from this research can guide policy design for tailored interventions to improve access to renewable energy for all income groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103518
Number of pages17
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume112
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Agent-based modeling
  • Energy transition
  • Just transition
  • Justice
  • Social influence

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