Picture of solar panel on a rooftop.
Photo: Daniel Karlsson

Campaign increases the number of solar panels on Swedish rooftops

A new study from Chalmers University of Technology found that an information campaign led to a significant increase in the number of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) adoption in Sweden. The results have now been published in a scientific journal. 
Chalmers researchers Alvar Palm and Björn Lantz, at the Department of Technology Management and Economics, have studied the effect of a Swedish information campaign for solar photovoltaics (PV) adoption that took place in Sweden in 2017. The campaign was led by municipal energy advisers. 

The campaign's goal was to increase the number of solar PV adoption on residential roofs in Sweden by providing information and raising awareness through seminars and individual counseling to homeowners. The initiative was carried out in more than 100 municipalities. 

"Information initiatives promoting sustainable behavior are common. However, little is known about whether the campaigns work as intended. It is a complex topic to study, as it is difficult to know how the actual behavior of the target group changes after they have learned the information", says Alvar Palm.

The researchers' analysis shows that the campaign significantly increased the number of solar PV adoption in the participating municipalities. During the campaign, the number of submitted and approved subsidy applications for solar PV adoption increased by 29 percent in the participating municipalities, compared to other municipalities. The results still stand, even after removing applications that did not lead to an installation.​

The study has now been published in the scientific journal Energy Policy.

"In the article, we argue, based on the results, that information campaigns can be a cost-effective way to increase the number of solar cells around the world and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector", says Alvar Palm.

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Chalmers researchers Alvar Palm and Björn Lantz.
Photo: Ulrika Ernström and Oscar Mattsson​ respectively.

About the study

In the study, Alvar Palm and Björn Lantz examined the effects of solar photovoltaics (PV)
information campaign conducted in 2017 by municipal energy advisers in more than 100 municipalities. The outcome of the campaign in these municipalities was compared with other municipalities in a regression model with control variables.

The analysis considered a set of control variables, such as irradiance (the amount of sunshine), population density, percental of green party support, the proportion of detached homes, and average income. The researchers also ensured that the installations were not more frequent in the participating municipalities even before the campaign.

The increase in the number of solar photovoltaic adoptions also stands after the removal of applications that did not lead to confirmed installation. As the subsidy is generous and relatively easy to apply, the researchers estimate that the number of applications granted well reflects the number of actual installations. This is also shown by previous experience.

Finally, it was ensured that the number of installations did not decrease under normal conditions after the end of the campaign, which could have indicated that the observed effect did not reflect a real increase but merely a displacement of time for the installations. All in all, the researchers believe that the evidence is strong for the observed effect to be real.

Article

Palm, A., Lantz, B., 2020. "Information dissemination and residential solar PV adoption rates: The effect of an information campaign in Sweden". Energy Policy, vol. 142. (article free to read until 24 June) 

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Published: Tue 30 Jun 2020.