Green Live & Work

Are solar panels contagious? Stanford studies reveal it is possible

Has the green movement gone viral?

A recent Stanford study reveals that for every 1% increase in the number of solar panel installations in a zip code, the time until the next adoption of solar decreases by 1% or becomes “contagious” as the study notes.

The study states, “As solar photovoltaic (PV) technology diffuses in California, a clear geographic clustering pattern has emerged. This [study] documents the pattern of clustering and explores several reasons why it may come about. Specifically, we examine the influence of environmental preferences and peer effects due to social learning or image motivation.”

Why are solar panels contagious?

GOOD blogger Ben Jervey wonders if the reason for solar panel installations increasing in neighborhoods is peer pressure, marketing density or infrastructure.

“It turns out it’s a little bit of everything,” Jervey said. “One predictable factor is social caché. Call it Keeping up with the Joneses. Homeowners see others putting up solar panels, and they want to projecting the same ‘green image.'”

Other reasons include information transfer. Jervey writes, “It gets easier to find out about solar panels if there are people in your zip code who have them. Neighbors talk to neighbors, explaining the benefits of rooftop solar, and demystifying the installation process. Likewise, once local contractors are familiar and comfortable with the systems, they can serve more customers, and talk to other contractors. Finally, companies like SolarCity are taking a hyperlocal approach to marketing and sales. It benefits the company to have a lot of projects in one area, so they’ll target a city or town, blast through, and move on.”

So installing panels on your own house could speed up the greening of your own neighborhood. What do you think of the study?


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