A new study conducted by environmental sociologist John Parkins, from the University of Alberta, in partnership with fellow researchers from the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences and the University of New Brunswick, has shown once again a well-known principle in the rooftop PV business: homeowners become more open to installing a solar array, if they see other neighbors deploying them, particularly if their number is concentrated within a relatively small area.
The authors of the study interviewed 2,065 people across Canada to test their willingness to go solar, and concluded that the sensory environment created by high concentration of PV systems enhances the “desire to do the right thing”, while making a decision that would otherwise be difficult, due to the high upfront costs for buying and installing a solar power generator.
“If you are immersed in an environment where these technologies are all around you, they become more familiar and doable,” said the research team. It added that public entities should also deploy a large number of installations, to indirectly promote renewables. “They can promote renewable energy by making it more visible to people,” the researchers said.
The survey futher revealed that general levels of civic engagement between the interviewed people played a significant role. “An engaged citizen is more confident and willing to adopt renewable energy technology,” they concluded.
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