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Title: Social-psychological aspects of domestic renewable energy : a study of low-income tenants responses to solar photovoltaics
Author: Kirwan, Kerry Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2676 0374
Awarding Body: De Montfort University
Current Institution: De Montfort University
Date of Award: 2007
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If the UK is to achieve the aim of moving to a low-carbon society, it is necessary to understand the factors involved in public acceptance of new energy technologies. To date however, there is little research exploring responses to renewable energy technologies in low-income households and disadvantaged communities, especially where those technologies are 'imposed' by outside agencies. This research attempts to address this gap by investigating perceptions of and attitudes towards solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in a 'New Deal for Communities' area in Leicester (UK). Forty-two semi-structured interviews were conducted with tenants of the solar homes prior to installation of PV panels. A theoretical framework reflecting issues of technology diffusion, place-related social identity and social networks was used as a template in coding participants' accounts. A follow-up questionnaire survey (n=13) was used to explore some of the issues arising from the interviews. Findings suggest that participants' perceptions of PV prior to installation reflect constructs from Rogers' (2003) attribute-perception model, but that this model did not capture all factors that influenced perceptions of PV. Tenants recognised personal and community benefits from PV. However, some concern was expressed about the outcomes of installation and some participants reported a lack of interest and little awareness of the technology. In addition, there were concerns that the scheme may damage community relations by inspiring envy in those whose houses were not included. Taken as a whole, these findings stress the importance of investigating tenants' perceptions prior to implementation of the project. The second study found that if tenants do not save money from PV then they will have a negative attitude towards it. From these findings, conclusions are drawn about the potential for successfully implementing similar schemes in areas undergoing urban regeneration and suggest some ways in which this process can be facilitated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available