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Will nonowners follow pioneer consumers in the adoption of solar thermal systems? Empirical evidence for northwestern Germany

  • Woersdorfer, Julia Sophie
  • Kaus, Wolfhard

In Germany, solar thermal systems (STSy) have only diffused to a minor extent as yet. This paper analyzes which demand side factors are decisive for the further proliferation of this environmentally benign technology. Making use of a consumer survey in northwestern Germany in 2007, we examine the following parameters: positive environmental attitude, knowledge of the applicability of STSy to satisfy consumer needs, and the presence of STSy among peer consumers. Drawing upon theoretical foundations from innovation economics and social psychology, we posit that these variables play a different role at distinct stages of the systems' diffusion process. Among nonowners, concrete plans to purchase such a system within the next two years are distinguished from the general interest to invest in this technology within the next five years. Probit models are estimated to test our hypotheses. Our results do not indicate a strong take-off of product diffusion within the next few years. By generating interest for the product, environmental attitude and knowledge as well as household income are important determinants of prospective adoption on the part of nonowners. However, it is only peer group behavior that appears to function as a trigger for the diffusion of this technology.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
Issue (Month): 12 ()
Pages: 2282-2291

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:12:p:2282-2291
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.04.005
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  1. C. Cordes, 2004. "The Human Adaptation for Culture and its Behavioral Implications," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2003-10, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  2. Welsch, Heinz & Kühling, Jan, 2009. "Determinants of pro-environmental consumption: The role of reference groups and routine behavior," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 166-176, November.
  3. Tsoutsos, Theocharis & Frantzeskaki, Niki & Gekas, Vassilis, 2005. "Environmental impacts from the solar energy technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 289-296, February.
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  7. Faiers, Adam & Neame, Charles & Cook, Matt, 2007. "The adoption of domestic solar-power systems: Do consumers assess product attributes in a stepwise process?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 3418-3423, June.
  8. Alex Coad & Peter de Haan & Julia Sophie Woersdorfer, 2008. "Consumer support for environmental policies: An application to purchases of green cars," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-035, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  9. Sheppard, Blair H & Hartwick, Jon & Warshaw, Paul R, 1988. " The Theory of Reasoned Action: A Meta-analysis of Past Research with Recommendations for Modifications and Future Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 325-43, December.
  10. Julia Sophie Wörsdorfer & Wolfhard Kaus, 2010. "Will imitators follow pioneer consumers in the adoption of solar thermal systems? Empirical evidence for North-West Germany," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-13, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  11. Venkatesh, Viswanath & Morris, Michael G. & Ackerman, Phillip L., 2000. "A Longitudinal Field Investigation of Gender Differences in Individual Technology Adoption Decision-Making Processes," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 33-60, September.
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