The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Qatar National Research Fund (project n. NPRP 5 - 873 - 5 - 133) It is now widely accepted that investment in renewable energy sources is one of the most effective solutions to amend the emission of greenhouse gasses. By providing emission-free and sustainable energy, these energies are main alternatives to fossil fuels. Yet, notwithstanding the advantages and the fact that they have experienced a substantial growth over the last decade, renewable energy market penetration still remains below the levels judged necessary to effectively curb C02 emissions. Increasing RE penetration requires therefore that concerned actors such as RE companies and policy makers develop a more thorough understanding of the factors that affect the RE diffusion process. To that end, in this study we adopt a new technology diffusion perspective to shed further light on the factors that may hamper or accelerate the diffusion of a specific type of renewable energy: photovoltaic systems (PV). We especially discuss and examine the impact of the following factors: i) the type of PV-related information acquired by individuals before adoption which is either customized (face to face contact, talking, etc.) or non customized information (article readings, ads, etc.); ii) information channel, either commercialized (information from PV suppliers) or non commercialized channels (information from other sources) iii) the total amount of PV-related information acquired by individuals before adoption iv) economic value of PV system v) technological uncertainty and vi) the perceived degree of competition in the PV supply market. We put forth a conceptual model of PV diffusion and we test it using primary data obtained through a survey of the actual clients, prospect and potential customers of a large European utility that also sells PV systems. Both Prospect and Potentials do not have the PV system but prospect asked for the quote. We used a set of logit models to estimate the impact of the above factors on the adoption likelihood for prospect and potential customers, and also to compare clients with prospects and prospect with potentials. The analysis provides interesting insights, particularly with respect to the time value of different information dimensions. The results indicate that the value of information varies over the time. For example customized information has positive effect on the adoption decision, and information coming from commercialized channels has positive effect on becoming a prospect. Second, our results show that, contrary to expectations, increasing the number of market competitors decreases the probability of adoption, possibly because potential adopters defer their adoption decision when the number of available alternatives increases beyond a certain limit. Altogether, our results indicate that - in addition to focusing on improving technological effectiveness and reducing system cost, RE providers should pay a lot of attention to the way they organize their distribution channels and to how they design their marketing campaigns.


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