Would you install a solar array because you’ve seen one on your neighbour’s roofs?
New research from the London School of Economics (LSE) found households, businesses and farms are more likely to install solar panels if others in the neighbourhood have done so.
It suggests neighbour endorsements spur installation as it decreases concerns of solar panels being expensive and a risky investment.
The analysis of around 60,000 solar installations on homes and businesses in Switzerland shows installation spreads from neighbour to neighbour.
The existence of this effect has also been demonstrated in the US (California and Connecticut) and Germany.
According to the research, the installation of a new panel is likely to lead to 0.08 additional panels per quarter year within approximately 300 metres.
The effect is said to decrease with distance and time – the closer or more recent an installation, the greater the “contagion” effect.
It states business owners tend to be influenced by the installations of other business owners and farm holders by other farm holders while householders are influenced by all installations.
The research suggests policymakers could use these effects to spur adoption of solar technologies by householders, through, for example installing signposts to emphasise the presence of a solar panel, group pricing of panels at the neighbourhood level, “electing” community-level solar ambassadors and using referrals.
It adds businesses and local industry clusters could also boost adoption by providing a platform for similarly-sized firms or those in the same sector to share their experience and provide tips.