Household Changes in Electricity Consumption Behavior Post Solar PV-Adoption




Blackburn, Griselda

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I combine quantitative data on minute-resolved electricity-consumption profiles and survey data with qualitative interviews of PV adopters to create a holistic understanding of how PV adoption influences behavioral change of electricity use. In particular, I examine the information and heuristics consumers use to make energy-related choices and evaluate how consumption behavior affects the total amount and timing of electricity use. Consumption behavior post adoption can significantly alter the environmental benefits of solar PV. Post-adoption changes such as decreases in energy consumption or load shifting from times of high peak demand to times of lower peak demand increase the amount of solar PV generation that is exported to the grid. Higher outflows may reduce the need for less efficient peaking generation units during peak demand, particularly in the summer when solar PV is at its highest generation capacity and electricity demand is greatest.

I find that PV adoption does trigger increases in awareness of electricity use. However, while adopters report small or insignificant decreases in household consumption post-adoption, examination of actual records shows both significant increases and decreases in consumption post-PV adoption at the household level. I explain this seeming discrepancy by noting that these households were already energy-conscious prior to PV adoption and had newer, more energy efficient homes, which could offset effects of increased awareness. Supporting this, a majority of respondents considered PV adoption as one action within a larger electricity conservation campaign initiated prior to system adoption. Because they had already implemented several energy efficiency measures, respondents could not easily identify additional ways to reduce electricity use. Most respondents have a method of monitoring consumption, but their attentiveness to monitoring declines after installation-- which could explain the awareness gap as well as the consumption increase. In addition, exogenous factors such as the purchase of an electric vehicle and changes in household size may explain increases in consumption. While I find changes in total consumption after adoption of solar PV at the individual household level, the aggregate mean consumption for all households is just 1.0% but the change in means is insignificant.



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