Kim Wolske

The U.S. residential rooftop solar market has seen rapid growth in the last decade, much of it concentrated among higher-income households. To address inequities in solar access, a growing number of policies aim to put solar on the roofs of low-to-moderate income (LMI) households. As much of the extant literature on solar adoption is based on the behavior of wealthier and more highly-educated households, questions arise about how to best reach potential LMI adopters. Do the same factors guide their decision-making, or do LMI households have fundamentally different motivations and barriers? To answer these questions, this study surveyed over 500 low-income adopter households in California who received their PV systems for free through a nonprofit. Their responses were compared to those in an existing dataset of high-income PV adopters in the same state. Results suggest that high-income and LMI solar adopters are more alike than not. Both groups are drawn to novel goods and have strong pro-environmental norms, with LMI households scoring slightly higher on these measures. The relative importance of different motivations for and barriers to getting solar were also similar. Taken together the results suggest that even when PV is highly-subsidized, it may be most attractive to people who fit the profile of “early adopters.”

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
Definition
Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Renewable Energy
Definition
Renewable Energy
Lower technology costs and supportive public policies are driving an increase in renewable energy in markets around the world. EPIC research is assessing the costs, benefits, and efficiency of policies...