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ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1705
Adopting small-scale production of
electricity
Maria Tengvard
Linköping University
Department of Technology and Social Change
Sweden
maria.tengvard@liu.se
Jenny Palm
Linköping University
Department of Technology and Social Change
Sweden
jenny.palm@liu.se
Keywords
PVs, wind turbine, small-scale energy production, electricity,
microgeneration, innovation, Sweden, household, consumer,
motivation, adoption, rejection
Abstract
In Sweden in 2008, a ‘new’ concept for small-scale electricity
production attracted massive media attention. This was mainly
due to the efforts of Swedish company Egen El, which is mar-
keting small-scale photovoltaics (PVs) and wind turbines to
households, both homeowners and tenants. Their main sell-
ing point is simplicity: their products are so easy to install that
everyone can do it. Autumn 2008 also saw IKEA announce that
within three years it would market solar panels. How, then, do
households perceive these products? Why would households
choose to buy them? How do households think about produc-
ing their own electricity?
Analysis of material based on in-depth interviews with mem-
bers of 20 households reveals that environmental concerns sup-
ply the main motive for adopting PVs or micro wind power
generation. In some cases, the adopting households have an
extensively ecological lifestyle and such adoption represents a
way to take action in the energy area. For some, this investment
is symbolic: a way of displaying environmental consciousness
or setting an example to others. For still others, the adoption
is a protest against ‘the system’ with its large dominant actors
or is a way to become self-sufficient. These microgeneration
installations are rejected mainly on economic grounds; other
motives are respect for neighbours and difficulties finding a
place to install a wind turbine.
Introduction
In the present era, renewable energy technologies (RETs), such
as wind turbines and solar cells, are seen as an important part
of any solution to the problem of climate change. These are
sustainable technologies that can be used in the future with-
out irreversibly damaging the earth’s ecosystem. The Kyoto
protocol includes a directive that all ratifying states should in-
troduce more renewables into their energy systems. The EU
commission has prioritized energy issues and set the so-called
20/20/20 goals: to obtain 20% of its overall energy mix from
renewable sources, reduce total primary energy consumption
by 20%, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% - all
by 2020 as compared to the figures of 1990. Other policy means
to encourage renewables are the use of green certificates that
favour the use of RETs. Greenpeace (2005) has calculated that
renewables could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs by
year 2100 if energy conservation is prioritized (cf. Pacala &
Socolow, 2004). The rapid development of renewable energy
technologies seems vital. These technologies, however, face the
problem of becoming established on the market (Elliott, 2000).
The present paper focuses on small-scale electricity production
in Sweden, i.e., systems where households can rent or buy grid-
connected photovoltaics (PVs) and wind turbines and connect
them to the house.
In one sense, both PVs and wind turbines are well-developed
technologies, concrete, understandable, and of known utility.
However, they have had problems becoming established on the
market. In Sweden, as in many other countries, the empha-
sise has been on large-scale energy production technologies
managed by large-scale centralized institutions. Elliott (2000)
referred to a mismatch between this small-scale renewable
technology and existing support infrastructure. In the UK, for
1706 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY
example, wind projects have had problems obtaining finance.
The technology is seen as new and risky for investors. The exist-
ing system with its institutional context ‘locks in’ the technol-
ogy and technology shifts are difficult to realize.
At the same time, there are examples of the successful intro-
duction of small-scale wind power, for instance in Denmark.
Elliott cites Denmark’s bottom–up process where small-scale
power plants were developed by local agricultural engineers on
a craft basis as contributing to this positive development. Ap-
proximately 70% of the wind turbines installed in Denmark are
locally owned by co-operatives (Elliott, 2000, p. 263). Similarly,
local ownership by farmers and other private individuals seems
to have been important in winning acceptance of wind turbines
in Germany even when the turbines increased in size (Elliott,
2000, p. 263). In countries such as Germany and Japan there
has been support for microgeneration since the early 1990s
(Keirstead, 2007, p. 4129).
The purpose with this paper is to analyse household decision-
making regarding the adoption of small-scale PVs and wind
turbines. We will discuss why households choose to adopt or
not adopt these microgeneration technologies and how house-
holds perceive them. How do households think about produc-
ing their own electricity and what barriers and enablers have
they experienced?
The paper starts by describing the Swedish market for PVs
and wind power. Thereafter we describe the field study on
which this paper is based. Then, we discuss earlier research on
home-owners adoption of PVs and micro wind and different
perspectives on adoption and technology use in households.
The results of interviews with households that are in different
stages of the decision-process to adopt PVs and micro wind
are then presented. The paper ends with conclusions concern-
ing different motives for households to adopt or reject these
solutions.
The Swedish market for PVs and wind power
The market share for PVs and wind power in Sweden today
is not large. At the end of 2006, the installed capacity of wind
power was 580 MW, only 1.7% of total installed capacity (SEA,
2007), while PVs had an installed capacity of only 5 MW (PVPS
Annual Report 2007). The market is expanding, however, and
the installed capacity of PVs grew faster than ever in 2007 while
wind power also grew. In Sweden, a new concept for small-
scale electricity production, launched by the company Egen
El, attracted massive media attention in 2008. Egen El mar-
kets both small-scale PV panels and small-scale wind turbines,
making it possible for households to rent or buy a power plant
that is easy to install and connect to the house. What is new in
this concept is how it is marketed: as something designed for
ordinary people. According to Egen El’s website, their prod-
ucts are so easy to install that anyone can do it without expert
help. Building permits are not required to install either the PV
panels or the wind turbine. Another incentive mentioned by
the company is that the homeowner can sell surplus electricity
back to the grid.
In order to get a picture of the market concerning micro-
generation systems, we interviewed seven retailers of PVs and
micro wind turbines who target households. The interviewed
household members had bought products from three of these
retailers, whose studied products are presented in Table 1.
While the concept launched by “Egen El” builds on the notion
of simplicity and that no expert help is needed, HomeEnergy, in
contrast, provides the installation of its products for free. The
systems from Egen El and Home Energy include transform-
ers, meaning the electricity can be directly accessed from an
electrical outlet. For its lower-priced products, Windon helps
the householders negotiate a contract with an installation com-
pany, while systems costing over EUR 25,000 are all-inclusive,
including installation. Egen El and Home Energy source their
products from different producers while Windon themselves
developed their wind turbines.
The interviews with representatives of these companies are
not the focus of this paper. Briefly stated, these companies saw
cost as the major factor keeping households from adopting
their products. Home Energy’s manager also said that custom-
ers often have difficulties grasping the amount of electricity
these plants actually produce. Even though the company pro-
vides thorough information on production capacity, customers
often become disappointed when they sit down and discuss the
matter with a sales representative. This is generally the first time
they realize they will not be able to produce enough electricity
Company Product Inquiries and number sold to
households in October 2008
Egen El Balcony PV 300 W, EUR 2700
PVs 540 W, EUR 4,400
Wind turbine 1,000 W, EUR 5,000
Installation not included
No building permit needed
Inquiries: 847
Sold: 30
50/50 split between wind turbines
and PVs
Windon Wind turbine 10 kW, EUR 25,000
Installation included
Municipal building permit needed
Inquiries: 12,000–1,300
Sold: nine
Home Energy Wind turbine v100 350–600 kWh, EUR 4–4500
Wind turbine v200 700–1,200 kWh, EUR 9–9500
Installation included
No building permit needed
Inquiries: statistics unavailable
Sold: v100, one to a homeowner,
seven to companies
Sold: v200, seven to companies
Table 1: Retailers of PVs and micro wind turbines whose products were purchased by the studied households
ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1707
to supply their household’s total electricity needs, but only a
minor part. The decision-making process often ends then, as
the households rethink the investment.
We also interviewed a representative of IKEA Greentech, the
results of which we will briefly mention here. IKEA Greentech
was founded in 2007 and became active in spring 2008. One of
its goals is to market solar panels in IKEA stores within three
years. To achieve this, IKEA has invested EUR 5,000,000 to re-
duce the cost of solar cell production by 70–80%. The money
will be invested in an existing solar cell producing company, so
IKEA will not start its own production.
Methods and materials
The main research method used was in-depth interviews. We
conducted interviews with representatives of seven retail com-
panies, five grid companies, the industry organization Sweden-
ergy, IKEA Greentech, and 20 households (i.e., 22 household-
ers). The focus of this paper is on the interviewed householders
who live in individual houses and apartments throughout Swe-
den. They were contacted by the managers of the companies
and asked whether they wanted to participate in the study. The
willing householders then contacted us directly or we got their
names and phone numbers from the managers. We usually in-
terviewed one family member per household, but on two occa-
sions two adults were present. Normally, we contacted and in-
terviewed the family member that was listed in the information
that we got from the retailers but in some cases the households
themselves chose the other adult family member to participate
instead of the listed one. According to the households, this
was mainly due to more spare time or other practical reasons.
Roughly, 30% of the interviewees were women.
The interviewed householders are in different phases of the
decision-making process, some having decided to adopt or not
adopt the technology and some still seeking information about
their options. The households have either bought or are about
to buy, still consider buying, or have decided not to buy a power
plant, as follows:
Have bought Considering buying Decided not to buy Total
9* 8 3 20
* Five have already installed their systems, but only one household
has had one working for a longer period.
The households are distributed between the studied retailers
as follows:
Egen El Windon Home Energy Unknown company Total
16 2 1 1 20
The interviews lasted between 20 minutes and 1.5 hours. They
were semi-structured and included the following themes:
1. Background data, 2. First contact with the concept of small
scale production of electricity and why the households are
interested, 3. Barriers and enablers to adopt these products,
4. Information received on different products, 5. Pros and
cons with different solutions, 6. Decision made or what stage
they are in, 7. Energy use – awareness and efficiency measures
implemented.
The interviews were recorded using an MP3 recorder/player
and then transcribed. The interviewed householders are made
anonymous in this paper and will be simply referred to as
householders 1-20; where two members of a single household
were interviewed, this is indicated by appending ‘a’ or ‘b’ to the
householder’s number.
The householders are 30–75 years old: six are over 60 years,
12 are 40–60 years, and four are 30–40 years old. The average
household income is EUR 60,000–70,000 per year. Most in-
terviewed householders have university degrees. Three house-
holds live in rental apartments and 17 in self-owned homes.
Their total consumption of electricity and heat varied greatly
from 3,000 kWh to 30,000 kWh per year.
When analyzing the material, we will discuss various per-
ceptions that the households have on their energy use and the
motives they state for adopting, postponing or rejecting small
scale production plants.
Palm and Löfström (2008) have studied how households
domesticate new ecological sustainable technology into their
homes. They identified and categorised the households accord-
ing to their main interest in the technology: economical, envi-
ronmental or technological interests. We are taking a similar
approach in the sense that we use categories for organising and
analysing our material. By using an inductive method, with the
empirical material stemming from the interviewed households,
we identified a set of categories that illustrate the different mo-
tives, or arguments, that the households put forward for adopt-
ing, rejecting or hesitating investing in this type of small-scale
renewable technology. Thus, a household might express nega-
tive or sceptical opinions about the plant but still consider or,
even, have chosen to go ahead with the investment. In fact, and
as displayed above, at the time of the interviews only 3 house-
holds had actually decided not to buy while 8 households still
considered the pros and cons, which will be illustrated in these
categories.
Theory: a comprehensive view of technology
adoption
Most studies of PVs and wind power are done from a technical
or economic perspective, frequently using statistical methods
or modelling. Some studies focus on problems similar to those
targeted in this project, but approach them from different per-
spectives. A common perspective is Rogers’s (2003) concept
of the linear diffusion of innovations (see, e.g., Kaplan, 1999;
Jager, 2006; Faiers & Neame, 2006). Rogers (2003) discusses
the S-shaped rate of adoption and has identified five categories
of adopters based on when an innovation is taken up. These
categories are: 1. innovators, 2. early adopters, 3. early major-
ity, 4. late majority, and 5. laggards. Rogers also describes the
general profiles for each category of adopters, based on socio-
economic, personality, and communication behaviour char-
acteristics. These characteristics differ between categories; for
example, both innovators and early adopters know more about
technology and have more years of education than do those in
the other categories (Rogers, 2003, p.172-174).
For Rogers, knowledge is essential for understanding the
adoption process. Of course, the individual needs some
knowledge of a product even to consider adopting it. However,
knowledge is also important when customers get a favourable
or unfavourable impression of the innovation. Knowledge helps
individuals form opinions and develop attitudes, which in turn
1708 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY
helps persuade them to adopt or reject a product. A persuaded
individual can make an adoption decision that a person with
insufficient knowledge cannot (Rogers, 2003).
Kaplan (1999) has studied solar electricity using Rogers’s
model and has concluded that knowledge in itself is not enough
to explain the adoption process for PVs. He identifies other
factors, such as motivation, technical understanding, experi-
ence, and familiarity (for example that the household earlier
has installed a similar technology such as solar heating), as
critical factors that must also be considered. Motivation is a
contextual factor that can differ depending on the field studied
or whether one is dealing with a household or a company. In a
microgeneration context, autonomy – independence from elec-
tricity providers – is one such motivational factor. Salience, to
display the products as a way to symbolise a green lifestyle, is
another motivational factor often mentioned in conjunction
with PVs (Kaplan, 1999, p. 470).
Faiers and Neame (2006) consider whether early adopters
develop internal reference prices based on their knowledge and
competence. In other words, the actual cost of the innovation
is not important; what matters is what it is worth to the adop-
ters as individuals. PVs and wind turbines are environmental
technologies that should attract so-called green consumers.
At the same time, earlier studies have detected inconsisten-
cies in the green consumption area. For example, consumers
who recycle materials do not necessarily favour green energy
products (Faiers & Neame, 2006, p. 1799). This is also in line
with studies that have found environmental concerns becom-
ing increasingly important as a symbolic issue. People want
to show that they are environmentally aware and think about
climate problems (Pedersen, 2000; Hedrén, 2002, 2008; Skill,
2008). An individual’s responsibility for the environment can
be related to motivational aspects of performing environmen-
tally friendly household activities (Barr, 2002). Investing in a
fully-visible PV panel or micro wind turbine can be a symbolic
way for households to communicate their values to others in
the community.
Our analysis especially focuses on household motivation for
approaching and possibly adopting PVs and wind turbines. The
discussion of these motivational factors can be deepened by
relating them to a domestication perspective and to how tech-
nology is interpreted by households. Silverstone and Hirsch
(1992) developed a domestication model of how technology is
gradually adopted in homes as an analytical tool. The research
group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
(NTNU) has applied and developed this theory in several stud-
ies in relation to the energy area. Aune describes domestication
as a pragmatic concept because it links ‘practical, symbolic and
cognitive processes’ that take place when a new item is adopt-
ed by a household (Aune, 2001, p. 8). According to Sørensen
(1996), the domestication process also captures changes that
take place in relation to technology.
Aune’s thesis is a study of everyday energy use in Norwegian
households. She discusses energy use as both a means and a
result of different constructions of the material and cultural
spheres. She considers how culture is formed through energy
consumption, and how energy use is interwoven with everyday
life. The resulting mixture is created through negotiations be-
tween individuals and technologies; the concept of domestica-
tion is used to describe how such negotiations are performed,
including the practical, symbolic, and cognitive content of the
process. Aune also develops the notion of energy culture and
identifies four cultures with different implications for energy
consumption, ranging from ‘the self-indulgent’ who do not re-
flect at all on their energy consumption to ‘the environmental-
ists’ who are deeply committed to ecological issues and sustain-
able resource use. The two in between these are the’the soberly
indulgent’ who has a low consumption pattern without having
any thoughts about energy use and ‘the hesitant environmen-
talists’ that are engaged in energy issues but still have an average
consumption (Aune, 1998).
In Aune’s (2001) study of the Ebox, a technology developed
to monitor and administer residential electrical equipment,
she finds that how the product is domesticated differs between
households. She identifies three groups:
The• enthusiast, who thinks the product is important to do-
mesticate for environmental reasons;
The• sceptic, who participates in the project but wants some-
thing in return like reduced grid-access cost; and
The• democratic participant, who does not think the project
is useful but participates because everybody else does so
(Aune, 2001, p. 9).
The study in question identifies the importance of using a flex-
ible rather than a static model when examining the use of a
technology. This was also demonstrated by Hallin and Peters-
son (1986), who monitored household behavior with respect to
energy issues in the 1980s. They discovered different groups of
motives to account for why households got involved in energy
systems. One motive was financial, insofar as a household saw
an opportunity to save money. Another was the desire for com-
fort, that is, to keep the house warm. Some households viewed
exercising control over their energy system as a goal in itself.
Yet another group exhibited elements of all of the foregoing,
i.e., they wanted to save money, increase comfort, and exercise
greater control over their energy use (Hallin & Petersson, 1986;
Hallin, 1992).
The studies cited above highlight how practical, symbolic,
and material conditions are involved in the process of domes-
ticating technology. There are lessons to be learned about how
to approach households with new technologies that challenge
the linear perspective used in many studies, where technology
use is not deemed a major issue because the ‘right’ use is built
into the process (compare Guy & Shove, 2000; Ghanem, forth-
coming). Considering only income, education, or family size
is reductive when it comes to understanding technology use.
With this in mind, we will now discuss how the interviewed
householders justified adopting, rejecting or delaying buying
PVs and micro wind turbines.
Motives for adopting, postponing or rejecting
small-scale electricity production
An overview of the expressed household motives for adopt-
ing, rejecting or delaying the investment in small-scale energy
production will be presented in the following section. We have
ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1709
categorized the material according to the main motives identi-
fied in the interviews.
MOTIVES FOR ADOPTION
There were six more or less interrelated motivational argu-
ments that turned up in the interviews and these will be dis-
cussed below.
Concern for the environment and harmonization with the lifestyle
‘It is the environment, we must think about it’. This was some-
thing emphasized by a majority of our interviewed household-
ers. Many reiterated the importance of living in harmony with
nature, including living as ecologically sustainably as possible
in all everyday activities. This included, for example, avoiding
long-distance travel and saving energy ‘fanatically’. Producing
electricity for themselves was an important part of this sustain-
able way of life:
To me, it’s quite clear that we should not leave ‘ecological
footprints’ on the earth, but treat the environment with
respect and dignity. Not steal resources from others but
use what is given to us. This is a fundamental value for me
(householder 3a).
As well householder 12, who will invest in a wind turbine, dis-
cussed wanting to reduce his impact on the environment:
The basic motive is that I want to reduce my [ecological]
footprint, and producing my own electricity is a way to
achieve this.
This notion was shared by several householders who saw the
investment as an important part of their lifestyle. Household-
er 17, for example, elaborated on the subject in greater detail.
This householder considered buying a wind turbine and be-
lieved this would harmonize with the family’s way of living:
In our family we discus what we eat, who produces the food
we eat, and all these things. We have had this environmental
concern all our lives. We are members of Greenpeace and
the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and so on.
Own production as a way to act and to set an example for others
Investing in a small-scale power plant is a way to act, to do
something. Householder 3a, who has invested in PV panels, de-
scribed the investment this way: ‘To me, it’s like a manifestation
of the thought’. Householder 9, who is considering investing in
a solar panel, said the following:
It would just feel good, like you would actually be doing
something. I want to help. It’s related to compassion for na-
ture, for everything. That is a major driving force for me, to
contribute.
For other interviewees, the investment is symbolic. It is a way
to show neighbours and friends that it is possible to act and do
something, even as an individual. The investment is a way to
set an example for others and to exercise ‘consumer power’: if
household demand for micro power plants that produce en-
vironmentally friendly electricity grows steadily, eventually
there will not be a market for non-renewable alternatives sold
by contemporary electricity companies. Householder 5, who
is thinking of investing in a balcony-mounted PV panel, put
it like this:
If other people see that I have bought a [micro power] plant,
then maybe they will follow my example. This way I can help
spread the concept of producing one’s own electricity and
perhaps make it more common in the future.
Householder 7, who is considering buying a PV panel, said:
We will not make the coal power plants disappear, but per-
haps we can set a good example for others.
As a way to protest to energy companies or the ‘Big Brother’
society
Producing their own energy is thus a way for the households to
distance themselves from the energy companies and contribute
to producing clean, green energy.
The choice to go ahead and produce my own energy is also
a way to take a stand against the big electricity companies
and the dirty energy they produce. It’s sort of like: ‘No, I just
won’t have that!’ (householder 4)
The investment is a kind of protest against the Swedish system,
with its large dominant actors: ‘It would be fun to score points
off Vattenfall [a major Swedish energy company]’ (house-
hold 6). Householder 8 said that his dream was to be completely
disconnected from the grid company. He has, however, decided
to buy wind shares instead of investing in a micro wind turbine.
The man interviewed from household 1 saw his micro power
investment as a statement against the whole societal system:
Just to fight the ‘Big Brother’ society. Definitely. Both Swed-
ish and international power production and distribution
is unfair, monopolistic, and counterproductive. The enter-
prises do not work in the interest of the people, but to earn
money.
The problem, in the view of householder 1, is that the compa-
nies never strive to develop electricity production in a way that
serves the people: ‘They are owned and governed by multina-
tional groups and the whole society is losing out on it’. These
companies let the people down and that is why small-scale elec-
tricity production is so important for this household.
Other households were more careful in their statements; for
example, householder 9 said that he just wanted to ‘annoy’ the
grid companies:
They are using our lifestyle in a speculative way that results
in these big companies earning a lot of money on how we
live and use our energy.
This he sees as very negative and something that producing
one’s own electricity can help put right.
Own production as a way to become independent
For some of the respondents who live on the countryside, a
major driving force for investing in a micro power plant is the
possibility of using the natural resources present in their eve-
ryday surroundings to produce energy. This is an option they
consider both logical and practical. Householder 12, who has
decided to buy a plant and install it near his house in the archi-
pelago, put it like this:
1710 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY
Since I have my own land with extensive access to wind and
sun, then, to me, it seems sensible to produce my own elec-
tricity. It’s sort of like catching your own fish or growing
your own potatoes. I find that awesome! It would make me
more self-sufficient and I like the thought of that! (house-
holder 12)
Thus, producing one’s own energy was also linked to becom-
ing more self-sufficient. In fact, many households stressed the
benefits of becoming more independent and less vulnerable in
case of temporary power failure or even in the event of force
majeure and longer periods of blackout:
I could handle a long-time siege by using wood and this
turbine (householder 8).
On the other hand, some of the household interviewees empha-
sized that a benefit of the chosen micro power systems was that
one was still connected to the grid in case something should
happen to one’s power plant. Others expressed the advantages
in terms of wanting to exercise more control over their own
energy situation.
Economic reasons
The aim of being completely energy self-sufficient was noted by
the two households that have invested in the larger 10 kW wind
turbines. These households can also see economic benefits from
the investment. Householder 18 for example, explained that en-
vironmental concerns were important, but that the relatively
short pay-off time calculated was decisive; he would never in-
vest in a power plant that would not be economically beneficial.
The other household, 19, that has invested in the same wind
turbine reasoned in a similar way:
I’m counting on the electricity price being double within
ten years. If I can also contribute to the environment, it is
a bonus.
At present, the Swedish state is investigating whether it should
be easier and cheaper for individuals to sell the electricity they
produce back to the grid, a practice that is so costly today that
it is not feasible for small-scale producers such as those studied
here. Parliament is expected to decide on the issue in 2009 and
most households expect a change in legislation. This expected
change would make some of the households interested in in-
stalling 540 W PVs and 1,000 W wind turbines to realize the
economic benefits of such an investment. This is something
that householder 14 awaits:
What is so good about this [system] is that you can just send
the electricity that you don’t use back to the grid. I get more
out of it that way. Like in the summer time, you don’t use
that much electricity anyway and then I might just as well
sell it back… And then, maybe in ten years from now, it will
be like a form of retirement pension. But for now, I’m wait-
ing for parliament to decide what’s going to happen.
Even though most respondents, unlike householder 14, ex-
pressed no plans to earn money from producing energy, some
still had financial motives. In the long run, the investment
might pay back as electricity prices increase, they reasoned. In
addition, new legislation is expected to make it easier for pri-
vate individuals to be compensated for the surplus electricity
they deliver to the grid and many households welcome this as
an extra incentive to decide to invest in micro power plants.
Adding to this, some of the interviewees said that this will en-
able them to invest in more power plants, which suggests that
economic factors are not insignificant.
Others were more pragmatic and stated that, from an eco-
nomic perspective, the investment was a catastrophe: ‘I have
probably the most expensive electricity bill in this neighbour-
hood’ (householder 2). This householder also noted that it is
hard to make the calculations connected with the investment,
because this entails estimating the future electricity price – an
impossible task, according to many householders. The house-
holders also said that they would rather invest in PVs and
wind turbines than in other luxury consumption items, such
as swimming pools (that example was often cited, interesting-
ly). Householder 16 compared buying a PV panel with buying
a Mercedes, linking this with status and the symbolic aspects
discussed above:
Why do people pay extra for expensive cars? You buy a
BMW or a Mercedes because you want to show something:
you pay an extra 6,000 dollars for that … Same thing with
PV panels: in California they’re proper status symbols that
show that you’ve got money. And in Germany, they say, ‘Why
don’t you have PV panels on the roof? Haven’t you realized
how good this is?’ Next to your Porsche you’ve got to have
solar panels on the roof, otherwise you’re not quite right in
your head. Either you are not smart enough to know how
good this is, or you are not environmentally aware enough
and in pace with your time.
Technological reasons
A final factor cited by the householders concerned the technol-
ogy and the functioning of the power plant itself, namely, the
delight of actually producing one’s own electricity. Many house-
holders claimed that being able to produce their own electricity
was a ‘fun’ concept. They also enjoyed watching their electricity
meters displaying the kW they produced themselves.
The Egen El and Home Energy concepts appeal to people
interested in new technology without being experts in the area.
Some said that they would never invest in a ‘real’ PV panel be-
cause it was too technically complicated. The systems provided
by these companies are easier to understand, install, and oper-
ate, according to the householders. Once the plant is plugged
in, they do not have to maintain it, but only watch it produce
energy.
MOTIVES FOR REJECTION OR POSTPONEMENT
When we asked all the households about what motives they
perceived for rejecting or postponing the investment, we got
five more or less interrelated arguments. However, some of the
householders that had adopted the products could not identify
any hindrance in doing so during the decision process.
No hindrance
Some of the householders emphasized that they saw no hin-
drances at all to adopt the offered microgeneration systems.
Householder 2, who had installed PVs, believed and said, ‘You
just plug them in!’. This householder is an electrician, so we
asked whether he thought it would be a simple task for a lay-
ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1711
man. He then changed his view and said, ‘It can be dangerous
and it is also important to connect the wires correctly, so a lay-
man should probably avoid doing that part’.
Investment costs and efficiency in production
The most often mentioned hindrance was the up-front cost
and the low production efficiency in relation to the price:
‘EUR 4,000 for a solar panel is very expensive per kilowatt hour.
For people working with energy, for them this idea is probably
quite stupid’, said householder 16, who eventually invested in
a PV. Another householder, who was delaying buying a micro-
generation product, said, ‘If you lose some money, that is no
big deal, but this is very expensive’ (householder 6). Another
interviewee has decided to buy shares in a local wind energy
project; householder 15 put it like this:
The biggest disadvantage is the investment cost. To get a sys-
tem that will produce any electricity you will need to spend
EUR 5,000 and then it will not produce many kWh per year.
The investment is simply too big and the pay-off time too
long for me to dare to go for it.
As well, householder 10 calculated that the costs would be
double those of buying shares in a community-owned wind
park. In addition, householder 8 bought wind shares because
he realized that he would need five turbines, and somewhere to
put them, to supply his family’s electricity needs. Other house-
holders thought that calculating pay-off time and the like was
impossible or at least very uncertain, because it is impossible
to estimate the future electricity price.
The grid companies and regulations as a hindrance
One problem, emphasized by several householders, is that the
big energy companies have a monopoly on the grid and deter-
mine the connection fees. Householder 6, for example, thought
that these companies’ interest in maximizing profit has led to
high fees and that the companies did not want to let competitors
into the market. Others found that the grid companies tried to
hinder the installation of new net meters and that the compa-
nies, by not giving clear answers, prolonged the process:
They cannot give a straight answer but refer to various para-
graphs. It is very unclear … It is like another ok, it is hard to
move on in the process (householder 17).
Furthermore, the householders felt that the offered micro pow-
er concept was so new that the authorities had yet to develop
a tradition of handling the connected issues. Householder 19
described the building permit process as follows:
Because this is a so-called pilot plant, there are many deci-
sion-makers in both the municipality and the grid company
who do not know how to respond when you ask something
or apply for a building permit.
This householder felt that both the grid company and local
authorities were major hindrances that slowed down the proc-
ess. Municipal energy advisors were also criticized for lacking
knowledge of small-scale power plants.
Finding a place to locate the wind turbine without risking
neighbour relations
Some households meant that it is difficult to find good loca-
tions for the wind turbines, or as householder 17 said:
Finances are not a problem for us… The problem is that
the turbine needs to be installed near an electrical outlet.
What we can see for the moment we don’t have such a suit-
able place here. The most suitable location for us is several
hundred metres away from an outlet. And if we put it on the
roof, yes, then the mast is really, really high. So right now we
don’t know what to do.
The other problem was that the wind turbine could not be
placed where the mast could fall into the neighbour’s garden,
which for householder 8 meant that it could not be placed in
the best location according to the wind test. This householder
could have placed the two-metre-tall mast on the roof, but the
woman in the household objected and meant that this would
be disrespectful to the neighbours. The couple lives in an envi-
ronmentally protected area and in the middle of the village. The
neighbours would see it as a ‘visual contamination’, she said.
The male householder 8 said:
It is all about respect for your surroundings. It would have
been very visible. People would have noticed and reacted
to it.
The studied households that bought shares in wind coopera-
tives, like householder 8 (above), all mentioned respect for
neighbours as an important factor influencing their decision
not to buy their own microgeneration system but invest in a
cooperative instead.
Technology and installation
The above hindrances were cited by householders who viewed
the offered technology in a positive light. However, the tech-
nology itself was also viewed as a hindrance, because it could
break down:
It is a gadget. There is anxiety that it is there and can fall
down and become damaged. What are we supposed to do if
something happens? (householder 1a)
Householder 1b emphasized that, from a consumption per-
spective, it was disadvantageous to buy a new product on the
market, even for a good cause. The households were also con-
cerned that the power plants would need considerable main-
tenance.
In general, the interviewed households were unsure as to
whether they would be able to install the products themselves.
They also thought that they would need some expert help on
electricity:
We would need to install the thing as well, and I am not a
handy man and I don’t have the time for it either. It must
be easy to install and preferably it should work instantly.
(householder 17)
1712 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY
The installation process and production results
As mentioned above, only a few households have actually in-
stalled the products. We will summarize their experience of in-
stalling them and the production results of the power plants.
The company Egen El’s products are not sold with the instal-
lation included. The products are easy to order over the Inter-
net, which the studied households had done. The information
they received about both the products and their installation
was available on the companies’ websites. The description of
how the assembly process was clear, but some questions arose
during the installation process. For example, some municipali-
ties require a building permit if a wind turbine is to be roof
mounted, despite the manufacturers’ claim that such a permit
is not necessary. The electrical installation was also something
the households could not manage on their own. They lacked in-
formation about connecting the wires and running the cables.
‘Try to fiddle with it’, advised one company when a household
contacted it. Cord lengths and missing parts were also noted
as problems. In addition, the households lacked information
on how to install the PVs for optimal function. For the wind
turbines, raising the mast was difficult, not least because heavy
parts had to be lifted high in the air.
As mentioned above, the interviewed households had not
had these products installed very long. Nevertheless, we asked
them what they thought about the production capacity to date.
One householder with a small wind turbine said:
We don’t know. I think it has produced very little electricity
(Householder 1a)
In one and a half months the turbine had produced 22.4 kWh.
On the other hand, the householder added:
But we don’t know how much it is supposed to produce
(Householder 1a)
They had not measured the wind capacity at the farm; they
simply assumed that it would be great enough, because they
thought the wind was blowing all the time. The wind turbine
had, however, drawn considerable attention to itself from
neighbours, which satisfied the couple. None of our house-
hold interviewees was dissatisfied with their investment; they
regarded it more or less as ‘an idealistic attempt’ and that it was
‘fun’ to watch the meter and see that it actually worked.
Conclusions
Overall, the studied households have an extensive environ-
mental concern, which is why they were interested in the mi-
crogeneration concept in the first place. They have many simi-
larities to Aune’s ‘environmentalists’ and ‘enthusiasts’. To use
Rogers’s categories, they are ‘innovators’ and ‘early adopters’
on this market. They have or are also considering investing
a relatively large amount of money in these power plants, al-
though there are limited possibilities for economic returns. The
households understand the issue of climate change and that
this entails changing how energy is used. One such change is
to use small-scale power plants. However, not all households,
have extensive knowledge of either the energy system or the
offered technology: they are interested in the offered products
for other reasons.
If we look at the households that have adopted a product we
can see that their main reason for this is environmental con-
cern in combination with that the investment gives the house-
holder a ‘better conscience’, alternatively it is symbolic, offering
them a way to visualize an ecological lifestyle to neighbours
and friends. In these cases the investment relates less to eco-
nomic rationality than to environmental concern. The invest-
ment is also seen as practical or self-explanatory, mainly due to
the fact that the respondents often live in rural areas and have
suitable locations in which to install wind turbines. They often
have a lifestyle that includes self-production or buying locally
as many goods as possible or had long wanted to try the tech-
nology, but thought that the ‘convenient’ PV panels sold on the
market would be too complex to handle. Egen El’s and Home
Energy’s products, on the other hand, were seen as easier to
understand and adopt, which gave the households the courage
to try them.
For the households still considering buying, the environ-
mental argument is central. Environmental concern is the main
reason to even think about adoption. Another often mentioned
motive for this group is to protest against the energy compa-
nies. To be able to become independent and less vulnerable to
power failure was also a common answer. The main hindrance
for the moment is the cost, that it is an expensive solution and
that the solutions had low production efficiency. Another com-
mon answer was related to the installation process and if they
really would handle to install the products in a correct way on
their own. Several of these households are also waiting to see if
new regulations will be implemented in Sweden that will make
it cheaper to sell own-produced electricity to the grid.
The households that have rejected the solutions are doing
this out of economical reasons or because they had not found
anywhere to install the products or because they do not want to
annoy the neighbours. In relation to economical aspects these
households viewed this investment as expensive and felt there
were economically better alternatives on the market. Installa-
tion is a hindrance in two ways: either the households must pay
someone else to do it, or they must spend considerable time of
their own (often helped by friends) handling the installation
themselves. Furthermore, the retailers of the products have
different strategies when it comes to installation. Egen El lets
the customers install the products themselves; this is a major
hindrance for many households and will probably be a signifi-
cant factor restraining the sales growth of Egen El’s products.
The products also have some problems winning acceptance in
local communities, and some studied households cited respect
for neighbours when explaining why they had not adopted
wind turbines. Though these households could also see many
positive aspects with the solutions, these barriers were much
greater than the positive effects.
A reflection is that the adoption of these small-scale power
plants definitely fits the perpetuation of the ‘consumer society’.
Instead of purchasing a wide-screen TV or a pool in the gar-
den, these households invested in PV panels or wind turbines.
The studied households had sufficient money for discretionary
spending on so-called luxury consumption, and they decided
to spend their money on something that is good for the envi-
ronment. They could continue consuming and still have a good
environmental conscience.
ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1713
In the case of Sweden, however, it can be said that for PVs
and micro wind turbines to reach and be considered by the
broader population, or as described by Rogers: the late major-
ity, the economical hindrances need to be at least reduced. Swe-
den has so far been restrictive to use subsidies to speed up the
adoption pace, but in the short run this seems to be an impor-
tant measure. Another issue that needs to be dealt with is the
regulation, to make regulations more transparent so that peo-
ple understand what they can expect from the grid companies
when they for example want to sell electricity back to the grid.
There is also a need for simpler rules, but that is probably on
its way. The market for this technology is still rather immature
in Sweden and there is a lack of routines for how to market and
sell this kind of concepts. One example of this is the installation
process which the households often are expected to handle on
their own. To be able to reach a majority of the home-owners,
there need to be established routines for the installation where
the households, when buying the concepts, are offered instal-
lation by professionals.
Although the amount of electricity produced by such power
plants might not become extensive in the near future, it is rea-
sonable to suppose that they will be more common, not least
due to rising electricity prices and greater demand for sustain-
able energy production. Furthermore, as mentioned in the in-
troduction, IKEA is planning to start distributing solar panels
in their stores, which might speed up the spread of this technol-
ogy in the broader population.
References
Aune M., 1998, Nøktern eller nytende Energiförbruk og
hverdagsliv i norske husholdninger. Senter for teknologi
og samfunn, Trondheim, NTNU, Department of Interdis-
ciplinary Studies of Culture.
Aune, M., 2001, Energy technology and everyday life – The
domestication of Ebox in Norwegian households, paper
presented at ECEEE 2001, available at: www.eceee.org/
conference_proceedings/eceee/2001/Panel_4/p4_1/
Paper/.
Barr, S., 2002, Household Waste in Social Perspective: Values,
Attitudes, Situations and Behaviour. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Elliot, D., 2000, Renewable energy and sustainable futures,
Futures, 32(3–4), 261–274.
Faiers, A & Neame, C., 2006, Consumer attitudes towards do-
mestic solar power systems, Energy Policy, 34, 1797–1806.
Ghanem, D.A. (forthcoming) Dissertation School of Archi-
tecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University.
Greenpeace, 2005, Decentralising Power. An energy revolu-
tion for the 21st Century, London, UK: Greenpeace.
Guy, S. & Shove, E., 2000, A Sociology of Energy, Buildings
and the Environment: constructing knowledge, designing
practice, London: Routledge.
Hallin P.-O. & Petersson, B. Å., 1986, De glömda aktörerna,
Efn/AES report 1986:1, Stockholm: Energiforskning-
snämnden.
Hedrén, J., 2002, Critical notes on sustainability and democ-
racy. In Svedin, S & Hägerhäll Aniansson, B (Eds), Sus-
tainability, Local Democracy and the Future: The Swedish
Model, Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic
Publishers.
Hedrén, J., 2008, Shaping sustainability: is there an unreleased
potential in utopian thought?, Futures, Accepted manu-
script doi:10.1016/j.futures.2008.09.005.
Jager, W., 2006, Stimulating the diffusion of photovoltaic
systems: A behavioural perspective, Energy Policy, 34,
1935–1943.
Kaplan, A.W., 1999, From passive to active about solar
electricity: innovation decision process and PV interest
generation, Technovation, 19, 467–481.
Keirstead, J., 2007, Behavioural responses to photovoltaic
systems in the UK domestic sector. Energy Policy, 35,
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Palm, J. & Löfström, 2008, Domestication of new technology
in households, paper presented at 4S/EASST Meeting in
Rotterdam, August 2008.
Pacala, S. & Socolow, R., 2004, Stabilization Wedges: Solving
the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current
Technologies, Science, (305) 968, 968–972.
Pedersen, L.H., 2000, The dynamics of green consumption: a
matter of visibility?, Journal of Environmental Policy and
Planning 2, 193–210.
PVPS Annual Report, 2007, available at: http://www.iea-pvps.
org/.
Rogers, E.M., 2003, fifth edition, Diffusion of Innovations,
New York: Free Press.
SEA (Swedish Energy Agency), 2007, Energy in Sweden,
ET2007:51, Eskilstuna: SEA.
Silverstone, R & Hirsch, E., 1992, Consuming technologies.
Media and information in Domestic Spaces, London:
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Skill, K., 2008, (Re)creating Ecological Action Space:
Householders´ Activities for Sustainable Development in
Sweden, Linköping Studies of Arts and Science no 449,
Linköping University.
Acknowledgements
This paper forms part of the research programme, Self pro-
duced electricity for sustainable development, funded by El-
forsk and Göteborg Energi AB Forskningsstiftelse.

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Adopting small-scale production of electricity, paper ECEEE 2009

  • 1. ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1705 Adopting small-scale production of electricity Maria Tengvard Linköping University Department of Technology and Social Change Sweden maria.tengvard@liu.se Jenny Palm Linköping University Department of Technology and Social Change Sweden jenny.palm@liu.se Keywords PVs, wind turbine, small-scale energy production, electricity, microgeneration, innovation, Sweden, household, consumer, motivation, adoption, rejection Abstract In Sweden in 2008, a ‘new’ concept for small-scale electricity production attracted massive media attention. This was mainly due to the efforts of Swedish company Egen El, which is mar- keting small-scale photovoltaics (PVs) and wind turbines to households, both homeowners and tenants. Their main sell- ing point is simplicity: their products are so easy to install that everyone can do it. Autumn 2008 also saw IKEA announce that within three years it would market solar panels. How, then, do households perceive these products? Why would households choose to buy them? How do households think about produc- ing their own electricity? Analysis of material based on in-depth interviews with mem- bers of 20 households reveals that environmental concerns sup- ply the main motive for adopting PVs or micro wind power generation. In some cases, the adopting households have an extensively ecological lifestyle and such adoption represents a way to take action in the energy area. For some, this investment is symbolic: a way of displaying environmental consciousness or setting an example to others. For still others, the adoption is a protest against ‘the system’ with its large dominant actors or is a way to become self-sufficient. These microgeneration installations are rejected mainly on economic grounds; other motives are respect for neighbours and difficulties finding a place to install a wind turbine. Introduction In the present era, renewable energy technologies (RETs), such as wind turbines and solar cells, are seen as an important part of any solution to the problem of climate change. These are sustainable technologies that can be used in the future with- out irreversibly damaging the earth’s ecosystem. The Kyoto protocol includes a directive that all ratifying states should in- troduce more renewables into their energy systems. The EU commission has prioritized energy issues and set the so-called 20/20/20 goals: to obtain 20% of its overall energy mix from renewable sources, reduce total primary energy consumption by 20%, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% - all by 2020 as compared to the figures of 1990. Other policy means to encourage renewables are the use of green certificates that favour the use of RETs. Greenpeace (2005) has calculated that renewables could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs by year 2100 if energy conservation is prioritized (cf. Pacala & Socolow, 2004). The rapid development of renewable energy technologies seems vital. These technologies, however, face the problem of becoming established on the market (Elliott, 2000). The present paper focuses on small-scale electricity production in Sweden, i.e., systems where households can rent or buy grid- connected photovoltaics (PVs) and wind turbines and connect them to the house. In one sense, both PVs and wind turbines are well-developed technologies, concrete, understandable, and of known utility. However, they have had problems becoming established on the market. In Sweden, as in many other countries, the empha- sise has been on large-scale energy production technologies managed by large-scale centralized institutions. Elliott (2000) referred to a mismatch between this small-scale renewable technology and existing support infrastructure. In the UK, for
  • 2. 1706 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY example, wind projects have had problems obtaining finance. The technology is seen as new and risky for investors. The exist- ing system with its institutional context ‘locks in’ the technol- ogy and technology shifts are difficult to realize. At the same time, there are examples of the successful intro- duction of small-scale wind power, for instance in Denmark. Elliott cites Denmark’s bottom–up process where small-scale power plants were developed by local agricultural engineers on a craft basis as contributing to this positive development. Ap- proximately 70% of the wind turbines installed in Denmark are locally owned by co-operatives (Elliott, 2000, p. 263). Similarly, local ownership by farmers and other private individuals seems to have been important in winning acceptance of wind turbines in Germany even when the turbines increased in size (Elliott, 2000, p. 263). In countries such as Germany and Japan there has been support for microgeneration since the early 1990s (Keirstead, 2007, p. 4129). The purpose with this paper is to analyse household decision- making regarding the adoption of small-scale PVs and wind turbines. We will discuss why households choose to adopt or not adopt these microgeneration technologies and how house- holds perceive them. How do households think about produc- ing their own electricity and what barriers and enablers have they experienced? The paper starts by describing the Swedish market for PVs and wind power. Thereafter we describe the field study on which this paper is based. Then, we discuss earlier research on home-owners adoption of PVs and micro wind and different perspectives on adoption and technology use in households. The results of interviews with households that are in different stages of the decision-process to adopt PVs and micro wind are then presented. The paper ends with conclusions concern- ing different motives for households to adopt or reject these solutions. The Swedish market for PVs and wind power The market share for PVs and wind power in Sweden today is not large. At the end of 2006, the installed capacity of wind power was 580 MW, only 1.7% of total installed capacity (SEA, 2007), while PVs had an installed capacity of only 5 MW (PVPS Annual Report 2007). The market is expanding, however, and the installed capacity of PVs grew faster than ever in 2007 while wind power also grew. In Sweden, a new concept for small- scale electricity production, launched by the company Egen El, attracted massive media attention in 2008. Egen El mar- kets both small-scale PV panels and small-scale wind turbines, making it possible for households to rent or buy a power plant that is easy to install and connect to the house. What is new in this concept is how it is marketed: as something designed for ordinary people. According to Egen El’s website, their prod- ucts are so easy to install that anyone can do it without expert help. Building permits are not required to install either the PV panels or the wind turbine. Another incentive mentioned by the company is that the homeowner can sell surplus electricity back to the grid. In order to get a picture of the market concerning micro- generation systems, we interviewed seven retailers of PVs and micro wind turbines who target households. The interviewed household members had bought products from three of these retailers, whose studied products are presented in Table 1. While the concept launched by “Egen El” builds on the notion of simplicity and that no expert help is needed, HomeEnergy, in contrast, provides the installation of its products for free. The systems from Egen El and Home Energy include transform- ers, meaning the electricity can be directly accessed from an electrical outlet. For its lower-priced products, Windon helps the householders negotiate a contract with an installation com- pany, while systems costing over EUR 25,000 are all-inclusive, including installation. Egen El and Home Energy source their products from different producers while Windon themselves developed their wind turbines. The interviews with representatives of these companies are not the focus of this paper. Briefly stated, these companies saw cost as the major factor keeping households from adopting their products. Home Energy’s manager also said that custom- ers often have difficulties grasping the amount of electricity these plants actually produce. Even though the company pro- vides thorough information on production capacity, customers often become disappointed when they sit down and discuss the matter with a sales representative. This is generally the first time they realize they will not be able to produce enough electricity Company Product Inquiries and number sold to households in October 2008 Egen El Balcony PV 300 W, EUR 2700 PVs 540 W, EUR 4,400 Wind turbine 1,000 W, EUR 5,000 Installation not included No building permit needed Inquiries: 847 Sold: 30 50/50 split between wind turbines and PVs Windon Wind turbine 10 kW, EUR 25,000 Installation included Municipal building permit needed Inquiries: 12,000–1,300 Sold: nine Home Energy Wind turbine v100 350–600 kWh, EUR 4–4500 Wind turbine v200 700–1,200 kWh, EUR 9–9500 Installation included No building permit needed Inquiries: statistics unavailable Sold: v100, one to a homeowner, seven to companies Sold: v200, seven to companies Table 1: Retailers of PVs and micro wind turbines whose products were purchased by the studied households
  • 3. ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1707 to supply their household’s total electricity needs, but only a minor part. The decision-making process often ends then, as the households rethink the investment. We also interviewed a representative of IKEA Greentech, the results of which we will briefly mention here. IKEA Greentech was founded in 2007 and became active in spring 2008. One of its goals is to market solar panels in IKEA stores within three years. To achieve this, IKEA has invested EUR 5,000,000 to re- duce the cost of solar cell production by 70–80%. The money will be invested in an existing solar cell producing company, so IKEA will not start its own production. Methods and materials The main research method used was in-depth interviews. We conducted interviews with representatives of seven retail com- panies, five grid companies, the industry organization Sweden- ergy, IKEA Greentech, and 20 households (i.e., 22 household- ers). The focus of this paper is on the interviewed householders who live in individual houses and apartments throughout Swe- den. They were contacted by the managers of the companies and asked whether they wanted to participate in the study. The willing householders then contacted us directly or we got their names and phone numbers from the managers. We usually in- terviewed one family member per household, but on two occa- sions two adults were present. Normally, we contacted and in- terviewed the family member that was listed in the information that we got from the retailers but in some cases the households themselves chose the other adult family member to participate instead of the listed one. According to the households, this was mainly due to more spare time or other practical reasons. Roughly, 30% of the interviewees were women. The interviewed householders are in different phases of the decision-making process, some having decided to adopt or not adopt the technology and some still seeking information about their options. The households have either bought or are about to buy, still consider buying, or have decided not to buy a power plant, as follows: Have bought Considering buying Decided not to buy Total 9* 8 3 20 * Five have already installed their systems, but only one household has had one working for a longer period. The households are distributed between the studied retailers as follows: Egen El Windon Home Energy Unknown company Total 16 2 1 1 20 The interviews lasted between 20 minutes and 1.5 hours. They were semi-structured and included the following themes: 1. Background data, 2. First contact with the concept of small scale production of electricity and why the households are interested, 3. Barriers and enablers to adopt these products, 4. Information received on different products, 5. Pros and cons with different solutions, 6. Decision made or what stage they are in, 7. Energy use – awareness and efficiency measures implemented. The interviews were recorded using an MP3 recorder/player and then transcribed. The interviewed householders are made anonymous in this paper and will be simply referred to as householders 1-20; where two members of a single household were interviewed, this is indicated by appending ‘a’ or ‘b’ to the householder’s number. The householders are 30–75 years old: six are over 60 years, 12 are 40–60 years, and four are 30–40 years old. The average household income is EUR 60,000–70,000 per year. Most in- terviewed householders have university degrees. Three house- holds live in rental apartments and 17 in self-owned homes. Their total consumption of electricity and heat varied greatly from 3,000 kWh to 30,000 kWh per year. When analyzing the material, we will discuss various per- ceptions that the households have on their energy use and the motives they state for adopting, postponing or rejecting small scale production plants. Palm and Löfström (2008) have studied how households domesticate new ecological sustainable technology into their homes. They identified and categorised the households accord- ing to their main interest in the technology: economical, envi- ronmental or technological interests. We are taking a similar approach in the sense that we use categories for organising and analysing our material. By using an inductive method, with the empirical material stemming from the interviewed households, we identified a set of categories that illustrate the different mo- tives, or arguments, that the households put forward for adopt- ing, rejecting or hesitating investing in this type of small-scale renewable technology. Thus, a household might express nega- tive or sceptical opinions about the plant but still consider or, even, have chosen to go ahead with the investment. In fact, and as displayed above, at the time of the interviews only 3 house- holds had actually decided not to buy while 8 households still considered the pros and cons, which will be illustrated in these categories. Theory: a comprehensive view of technology adoption Most studies of PVs and wind power are done from a technical or economic perspective, frequently using statistical methods or modelling. Some studies focus on problems similar to those targeted in this project, but approach them from different per- spectives. A common perspective is Rogers’s (2003) concept of the linear diffusion of innovations (see, e.g., Kaplan, 1999; Jager, 2006; Faiers & Neame, 2006). Rogers (2003) discusses the S-shaped rate of adoption and has identified five categories of adopters based on when an innovation is taken up. These categories are: 1. innovators, 2. early adopters, 3. early major- ity, 4. late majority, and 5. laggards. Rogers also describes the general profiles for each category of adopters, based on socio- economic, personality, and communication behaviour char- acteristics. These characteristics differ between categories; for example, both innovators and early adopters know more about technology and have more years of education than do those in the other categories (Rogers, 2003, p.172-174). For Rogers, knowledge is essential for understanding the adoption process. Of course, the individual needs some knowledge of a product even to consider adopting it. However, knowledge is also important when customers get a favourable or unfavourable impression of the innovation. Knowledge helps individuals form opinions and develop attitudes, which in turn
  • 4. 1708 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY helps persuade them to adopt or reject a product. A persuaded individual can make an adoption decision that a person with insufficient knowledge cannot (Rogers, 2003). Kaplan (1999) has studied solar electricity using Rogers’s model and has concluded that knowledge in itself is not enough to explain the adoption process for PVs. He identifies other factors, such as motivation, technical understanding, experi- ence, and familiarity (for example that the household earlier has installed a similar technology such as solar heating), as critical factors that must also be considered. Motivation is a contextual factor that can differ depending on the field studied or whether one is dealing with a household or a company. In a microgeneration context, autonomy – independence from elec- tricity providers – is one such motivational factor. Salience, to display the products as a way to symbolise a green lifestyle, is another motivational factor often mentioned in conjunction with PVs (Kaplan, 1999, p. 470). Faiers and Neame (2006) consider whether early adopters develop internal reference prices based on their knowledge and competence. In other words, the actual cost of the innovation is not important; what matters is what it is worth to the adop- ters as individuals. PVs and wind turbines are environmental technologies that should attract so-called green consumers. At the same time, earlier studies have detected inconsisten- cies in the green consumption area. For example, consumers who recycle materials do not necessarily favour green energy products (Faiers & Neame, 2006, p. 1799). This is also in line with studies that have found environmental concerns becom- ing increasingly important as a symbolic issue. People want to show that they are environmentally aware and think about climate problems (Pedersen, 2000; Hedrén, 2002, 2008; Skill, 2008). An individual’s responsibility for the environment can be related to motivational aspects of performing environmen- tally friendly household activities (Barr, 2002). Investing in a fully-visible PV panel or micro wind turbine can be a symbolic way for households to communicate their values to others in the community. Our analysis especially focuses on household motivation for approaching and possibly adopting PVs and wind turbines. The discussion of these motivational factors can be deepened by relating them to a domestication perspective and to how tech- nology is interpreted by households. Silverstone and Hirsch (1992) developed a domestication model of how technology is gradually adopted in homes as an analytical tool. The research group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has applied and developed this theory in several stud- ies in relation to the energy area. Aune describes domestication as a pragmatic concept because it links ‘practical, symbolic and cognitive processes’ that take place when a new item is adopt- ed by a household (Aune, 2001, p. 8). According to Sørensen (1996), the domestication process also captures changes that take place in relation to technology. Aune’s thesis is a study of everyday energy use in Norwegian households. She discusses energy use as both a means and a result of different constructions of the material and cultural spheres. She considers how culture is formed through energy consumption, and how energy use is interwoven with everyday life. The resulting mixture is created through negotiations be- tween individuals and technologies; the concept of domestica- tion is used to describe how such negotiations are performed, including the practical, symbolic, and cognitive content of the process. Aune also develops the notion of energy culture and identifies four cultures with different implications for energy consumption, ranging from ‘the self-indulgent’ who do not re- flect at all on their energy consumption to ‘the environmental- ists’ who are deeply committed to ecological issues and sustain- able resource use. The two in between these are the’the soberly indulgent’ who has a low consumption pattern without having any thoughts about energy use and ‘the hesitant environmen- talists’ that are engaged in energy issues but still have an average consumption (Aune, 1998). In Aune’s (2001) study of the Ebox, a technology developed to monitor and administer residential electrical equipment, she finds that how the product is domesticated differs between households. She identifies three groups: The• enthusiast, who thinks the product is important to do- mesticate for environmental reasons; The• sceptic, who participates in the project but wants some- thing in return like reduced grid-access cost; and The• democratic participant, who does not think the project is useful but participates because everybody else does so (Aune, 2001, p. 9). The study in question identifies the importance of using a flex- ible rather than a static model when examining the use of a technology. This was also demonstrated by Hallin and Peters- son (1986), who monitored household behavior with respect to energy issues in the 1980s. They discovered different groups of motives to account for why households got involved in energy systems. One motive was financial, insofar as a household saw an opportunity to save money. Another was the desire for com- fort, that is, to keep the house warm. Some households viewed exercising control over their energy system as a goal in itself. Yet another group exhibited elements of all of the foregoing, i.e., they wanted to save money, increase comfort, and exercise greater control over their energy use (Hallin & Petersson, 1986; Hallin, 1992). The studies cited above highlight how practical, symbolic, and material conditions are involved in the process of domes- ticating technology. There are lessons to be learned about how to approach households with new technologies that challenge the linear perspective used in many studies, where technology use is not deemed a major issue because the ‘right’ use is built into the process (compare Guy & Shove, 2000; Ghanem, forth- coming). Considering only income, education, or family size is reductive when it comes to understanding technology use. With this in mind, we will now discuss how the interviewed householders justified adopting, rejecting or delaying buying PVs and micro wind turbines. Motives for adopting, postponing or rejecting small-scale electricity production An overview of the expressed household motives for adopt- ing, rejecting or delaying the investment in small-scale energy production will be presented in the following section. We have
  • 5. ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1709 categorized the material according to the main motives identi- fied in the interviews. MOTIVES FOR ADOPTION There were six more or less interrelated motivational argu- ments that turned up in the interviews and these will be dis- cussed below. Concern for the environment and harmonization with the lifestyle ‘It is the environment, we must think about it’. This was some- thing emphasized by a majority of our interviewed household- ers. Many reiterated the importance of living in harmony with nature, including living as ecologically sustainably as possible in all everyday activities. This included, for example, avoiding long-distance travel and saving energy ‘fanatically’. Producing electricity for themselves was an important part of this sustain- able way of life: To me, it’s quite clear that we should not leave ‘ecological footprints’ on the earth, but treat the environment with respect and dignity. Not steal resources from others but use what is given to us. This is a fundamental value for me (householder 3a). As well householder 12, who will invest in a wind turbine, dis- cussed wanting to reduce his impact on the environment: The basic motive is that I want to reduce my [ecological] footprint, and producing my own electricity is a way to achieve this. This notion was shared by several householders who saw the investment as an important part of their lifestyle. Household- er 17, for example, elaborated on the subject in greater detail. This householder considered buying a wind turbine and be- lieved this would harmonize with the family’s way of living: In our family we discus what we eat, who produces the food we eat, and all these things. We have had this environmental concern all our lives. We are members of Greenpeace and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and so on. Own production as a way to act and to set an example for others Investing in a small-scale power plant is a way to act, to do something. Householder 3a, who has invested in PV panels, de- scribed the investment this way: ‘To me, it’s like a manifestation of the thought’. Householder 9, who is considering investing in a solar panel, said the following: It would just feel good, like you would actually be doing something. I want to help. It’s related to compassion for na- ture, for everything. That is a major driving force for me, to contribute. For other interviewees, the investment is symbolic. It is a way to show neighbours and friends that it is possible to act and do something, even as an individual. The investment is a way to set an example for others and to exercise ‘consumer power’: if household demand for micro power plants that produce en- vironmentally friendly electricity grows steadily, eventually there will not be a market for non-renewable alternatives sold by contemporary electricity companies. Householder 5, who is thinking of investing in a balcony-mounted PV panel, put it like this: If other people see that I have bought a [micro power] plant, then maybe they will follow my example. This way I can help spread the concept of producing one’s own electricity and perhaps make it more common in the future. Householder 7, who is considering buying a PV panel, said: We will not make the coal power plants disappear, but per- haps we can set a good example for others. As a way to protest to energy companies or the ‘Big Brother’ society Producing their own energy is thus a way for the households to distance themselves from the energy companies and contribute to producing clean, green energy. The choice to go ahead and produce my own energy is also a way to take a stand against the big electricity companies and the dirty energy they produce. It’s sort of like: ‘No, I just won’t have that!’ (householder 4) The investment is a kind of protest against the Swedish system, with its large dominant actors: ‘It would be fun to score points off Vattenfall [a major Swedish energy company]’ (house- hold 6). Householder 8 said that his dream was to be completely disconnected from the grid company. He has, however, decided to buy wind shares instead of investing in a micro wind turbine. The man interviewed from household 1 saw his micro power investment as a statement against the whole societal system: Just to fight the ‘Big Brother’ society. Definitely. Both Swed- ish and international power production and distribution is unfair, monopolistic, and counterproductive. The enter- prises do not work in the interest of the people, but to earn money. The problem, in the view of householder 1, is that the compa- nies never strive to develop electricity production in a way that serves the people: ‘They are owned and governed by multina- tional groups and the whole society is losing out on it’. These companies let the people down and that is why small-scale elec- tricity production is so important for this household. Other households were more careful in their statements; for example, householder 9 said that he just wanted to ‘annoy’ the grid companies: They are using our lifestyle in a speculative way that results in these big companies earning a lot of money on how we live and use our energy. This he sees as very negative and something that producing one’s own electricity can help put right. Own production as a way to become independent For some of the respondents who live on the countryside, a major driving force for investing in a micro power plant is the possibility of using the natural resources present in their eve- ryday surroundings to produce energy. This is an option they consider both logical and practical. Householder 12, who has decided to buy a plant and install it near his house in the archi- pelago, put it like this:
  • 6. 1710 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY Since I have my own land with extensive access to wind and sun, then, to me, it seems sensible to produce my own elec- tricity. It’s sort of like catching your own fish or growing your own potatoes. I find that awesome! It would make me more self-sufficient and I like the thought of that! (house- holder 12) Thus, producing one’s own energy was also linked to becom- ing more self-sufficient. In fact, many households stressed the benefits of becoming more independent and less vulnerable in case of temporary power failure or even in the event of force majeure and longer periods of blackout: I could handle a long-time siege by using wood and this turbine (householder 8). On the other hand, some of the household interviewees empha- sized that a benefit of the chosen micro power systems was that one was still connected to the grid in case something should happen to one’s power plant. Others expressed the advantages in terms of wanting to exercise more control over their own energy situation. Economic reasons The aim of being completely energy self-sufficient was noted by the two households that have invested in the larger 10 kW wind turbines. These households can also see economic benefits from the investment. Householder 18 for example, explained that en- vironmental concerns were important, but that the relatively short pay-off time calculated was decisive; he would never in- vest in a power plant that would not be economically beneficial. The other household, 19, that has invested in the same wind turbine reasoned in a similar way: I’m counting on the electricity price being double within ten years. If I can also contribute to the environment, it is a bonus. At present, the Swedish state is investigating whether it should be easier and cheaper for individuals to sell the electricity they produce back to the grid, a practice that is so costly today that it is not feasible for small-scale producers such as those studied here. Parliament is expected to decide on the issue in 2009 and most households expect a change in legislation. This expected change would make some of the households interested in in- stalling 540 W PVs and 1,000 W wind turbines to realize the economic benefits of such an investment. This is something that householder 14 awaits: What is so good about this [system] is that you can just send the electricity that you don’t use back to the grid. I get more out of it that way. Like in the summer time, you don’t use that much electricity anyway and then I might just as well sell it back… And then, maybe in ten years from now, it will be like a form of retirement pension. But for now, I’m wait- ing for parliament to decide what’s going to happen. Even though most respondents, unlike householder 14, ex- pressed no plans to earn money from producing energy, some still had financial motives. In the long run, the investment might pay back as electricity prices increase, they reasoned. In addition, new legislation is expected to make it easier for pri- vate individuals to be compensated for the surplus electricity they deliver to the grid and many households welcome this as an extra incentive to decide to invest in micro power plants. Adding to this, some of the interviewees said that this will en- able them to invest in more power plants, which suggests that economic factors are not insignificant. Others were more pragmatic and stated that, from an eco- nomic perspective, the investment was a catastrophe: ‘I have probably the most expensive electricity bill in this neighbour- hood’ (householder 2). This householder also noted that it is hard to make the calculations connected with the investment, because this entails estimating the future electricity price – an impossible task, according to many householders. The house- holders also said that they would rather invest in PVs and wind turbines than in other luxury consumption items, such as swimming pools (that example was often cited, interesting- ly). Householder 16 compared buying a PV panel with buying a Mercedes, linking this with status and the symbolic aspects discussed above: Why do people pay extra for expensive cars? You buy a BMW or a Mercedes because you want to show something: you pay an extra 6,000 dollars for that … Same thing with PV panels: in California they’re proper status symbols that show that you’ve got money. And in Germany, they say, ‘Why don’t you have PV panels on the roof? Haven’t you realized how good this is?’ Next to your Porsche you’ve got to have solar panels on the roof, otherwise you’re not quite right in your head. Either you are not smart enough to know how good this is, or you are not environmentally aware enough and in pace with your time. Technological reasons A final factor cited by the householders concerned the technol- ogy and the functioning of the power plant itself, namely, the delight of actually producing one’s own electricity. Many house- holders claimed that being able to produce their own electricity was a ‘fun’ concept. They also enjoyed watching their electricity meters displaying the kW they produced themselves. The Egen El and Home Energy concepts appeal to people interested in new technology without being experts in the area. Some said that they would never invest in a ‘real’ PV panel be- cause it was too technically complicated. The systems provided by these companies are easier to understand, install, and oper- ate, according to the householders. Once the plant is plugged in, they do not have to maintain it, but only watch it produce energy. MOTIVES FOR REJECTION OR POSTPONEMENT When we asked all the households about what motives they perceived for rejecting or postponing the investment, we got five more or less interrelated arguments. However, some of the householders that had adopted the products could not identify any hindrance in doing so during the decision process. No hindrance Some of the householders emphasized that they saw no hin- drances at all to adopt the offered microgeneration systems. Householder 2, who had installed PVs, believed and said, ‘You just plug them in!’. This householder is an electrician, so we asked whether he thought it would be a simple task for a lay-
  • 7. ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1711 man. He then changed his view and said, ‘It can be dangerous and it is also important to connect the wires correctly, so a lay- man should probably avoid doing that part’. Investment costs and efficiency in production The most often mentioned hindrance was the up-front cost and the low production efficiency in relation to the price: ‘EUR 4,000 for a solar panel is very expensive per kilowatt hour. For people working with energy, for them this idea is probably quite stupid’, said householder 16, who eventually invested in a PV. Another householder, who was delaying buying a micro- generation product, said, ‘If you lose some money, that is no big deal, but this is very expensive’ (householder 6). Another interviewee has decided to buy shares in a local wind energy project; householder 15 put it like this: The biggest disadvantage is the investment cost. To get a sys- tem that will produce any electricity you will need to spend EUR 5,000 and then it will not produce many kWh per year. The investment is simply too big and the pay-off time too long for me to dare to go for it. As well, householder 10 calculated that the costs would be double those of buying shares in a community-owned wind park. In addition, householder 8 bought wind shares because he realized that he would need five turbines, and somewhere to put them, to supply his family’s electricity needs. Other house- holders thought that calculating pay-off time and the like was impossible or at least very uncertain, because it is impossible to estimate the future electricity price. The grid companies and regulations as a hindrance One problem, emphasized by several householders, is that the big energy companies have a monopoly on the grid and deter- mine the connection fees. Householder 6, for example, thought that these companies’ interest in maximizing profit has led to high fees and that the companies did not want to let competitors into the market. Others found that the grid companies tried to hinder the installation of new net meters and that the compa- nies, by not giving clear answers, prolonged the process: They cannot give a straight answer but refer to various para- graphs. It is very unclear … It is like another ok, it is hard to move on in the process (householder 17). Furthermore, the householders felt that the offered micro pow- er concept was so new that the authorities had yet to develop a tradition of handling the connected issues. Householder 19 described the building permit process as follows: Because this is a so-called pilot plant, there are many deci- sion-makers in both the municipality and the grid company who do not know how to respond when you ask something or apply for a building permit. This householder felt that both the grid company and local authorities were major hindrances that slowed down the proc- ess. Municipal energy advisors were also criticized for lacking knowledge of small-scale power plants. Finding a place to locate the wind turbine without risking neighbour relations Some households meant that it is difficult to find good loca- tions for the wind turbines, or as householder 17 said: Finances are not a problem for us… The problem is that the turbine needs to be installed near an electrical outlet. What we can see for the moment we don’t have such a suit- able place here. The most suitable location for us is several hundred metres away from an outlet. And if we put it on the roof, yes, then the mast is really, really high. So right now we don’t know what to do. The other problem was that the wind turbine could not be placed where the mast could fall into the neighbour’s garden, which for householder 8 meant that it could not be placed in the best location according to the wind test. This householder could have placed the two-metre-tall mast on the roof, but the woman in the household objected and meant that this would be disrespectful to the neighbours. The couple lives in an envi- ronmentally protected area and in the middle of the village. The neighbours would see it as a ‘visual contamination’, she said. The male householder 8 said: It is all about respect for your surroundings. It would have been very visible. People would have noticed and reacted to it. The studied households that bought shares in wind coopera- tives, like householder 8 (above), all mentioned respect for neighbours as an important factor influencing their decision not to buy their own microgeneration system but invest in a cooperative instead. Technology and installation The above hindrances were cited by householders who viewed the offered technology in a positive light. However, the tech- nology itself was also viewed as a hindrance, because it could break down: It is a gadget. There is anxiety that it is there and can fall down and become damaged. What are we supposed to do if something happens? (householder 1a) Householder 1b emphasized that, from a consumption per- spective, it was disadvantageous to buy a new product on the market, even for a good cause. The households were also con- cerned that the power plants would need considerable main- tenance. In general, the interviewed households were unsure as to whether they would be able to install the products themselves. They also thought that they would need some expert help on electricity: We would need to install the thing as well, and I am not a handy man and I don’t have the time for it either. It must be easy to install and preferably it should work instantly. (householder 17)
  • 8. 1712 ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY The installation process and production results As mentioned above, only a few households have actually in- stalled the products. We will summarize their experience of in- stalling them and the production results of the power plants. The company Egen El’s products are not sold with the instal- lation included. The products are easy to order over the Inter- net, which the studied households had done. The information they received about both the products and their installation was available on the companies’ websites. The description of how the assembly process was clear, but some questions arose during the installation process. For example, some municipali- ties require a building permit if a wind turbine is to be roof mounted, despite the manufacturers’ claim that such a permit is not necessary. The electrical installation was also something the households could not manage on their own. They lacked in- formation about connecting the wires and running the cables. ‘Try to fiddle with it’, advised one company when a household contacted it. Cord lengths and missing parts were also noted as problems. In addition, the households lacked information on how to install the PVs for optimal function. For the wind turbines, raising the mast was difficult, not least because heavy parts had to be lifted high in the air. As mentioned above, the interviewed households had not had these products installed very long. Nevertheless, we asked them what they thought about the production capacity to date. One householder with a small wind turbine said: We don’t know. I think it has produced very little electricity (Householder 1a) In one and a half months the turbine had produced 22.4 kWh. On the other hand, the householder added: But we don’t know how much it is supposed to produce (Householder 1a) They had not measured the wind capacity at the farm; they simply assumed that it would be great enough, because they thought the wind was blowing all the time. The wind turbine had, however, drawn considerable attention to itself from neighbours, which satisfied the couple. None of our house- hold interviewees was dissatisfied with their investment; they regarded it more or less as ‘an idealistic attempt’ and that it was ‘fun’ to watch the meter and see that it actually worked. Conclusions Overall, the studied households have an extensive environ- mental concern, which is why they were interested in the mi- crogeneration concept in the first place. They have many simi- larities to Aune’s ‘environmentalists’ and ‘enthusiasts’. To use Rogers’s categories, they are ‘innovators’ and ‘early adopters’ on this market. They have or are also considering investing a relatively large amount of money in these power plants, al- though there are limited possibilities for economic returns. The households understand the issue of climate change and that this entails changing how energy is used. One such change is to use small-scale power plants. However, not all households, have extensive knowledge of either the energy system or the offered technology: they are interested in the offered products for other reasons. If we look at the households that have adopted a product we can see that their main reason for this is environmental con- cern in combination with that the investment gives the house- holder a ‘better conscience’, alternatively it is symbolic, offering them a way to visualize an ecological lifestyle to neighbours and friends. In these cases the investment relates less to eco- nomic rationality than to environmental concern. The invest- ment is also seen as practical or self-explanatory, mainly due to the fact that the respondents often live in rural areas and have suitable locations in which to install wind turbines. They often have a lifestyle that includes self-production or buying locally as many goods as possible or had long wanted to try the tech- nology, but thought that the ‘convenient’ PV panels sold on the market would be too complex to handle. Egen El’s and Home Energy’s products, on the other hand, were seen as easier to understand and adopt, which gave the households the courage to try them. For the households still considering buying, the environ- mental argument is central. Environmental concern is the main reason to even think about adoption. Another often mentioned motive for this group is to protest against the energy compa- nies. To be able to become independent and less vulnerable to power failure was also a common answer. The main hindrance for the moment is the cost, that it is an expensive solution and that the solutions had low production efficiency. Another com- mon answer was related to the installation process and if they really would handle to install the products in a correct way on their own. Several of these households are also waiting to see if new regulations will be implemented in Sweden that will make it cheaper to sell own-produced electricity to the grid. The households that have rejected the solutions are doing this out of economical reasons or because they had not found anywhere to install the products or because they do not want to annoy the neighbours. In relation to economical aspects these households viewed this investment as expensive and felt there were economically better alternatives on the market. Installa- tion is a hindrance in two ways: either the households must pay someone else to do it, or they must spend considerable time of their own (often helped by friends) handling the installation themselves. Furthermore, the retailers of the products have different strategies when it comes to installation. Egen El lets the customers install the products themselves; this is a major hindrance for many households and will probably be a signifi- cant factor restraining the sales growth of Egen El’s products. The products also have some problems winning acceptance in local communities, and some studied households cited respect for neighbours when explaining why they had not adopted wind turbines. Though these households could also see many positive aspects with the solutions, these barriers were much greater than the positive effects. A reflection is that the adoption of these small-scale power plants definitely fits the perpetuation of the ‘consumer society’. Instead of purchasing a wide-screen TV or a pool in the gar- den, these households invested in PV panels or wind turbines. The studied households had sufficient money for discretionary spending on so-called luxury consumption, and they decided to spend their money on something that is good for the envi- ronment. They could continue consuming and still have a good environmental conscience.
  • 9. ECEEE 2009 SUMMER STUDY • ACT! INNOVATE! DELIVER! REDUCING ENERGY DEMAND SUSTAINABLY 1713 In the case of Sweden, however, it can be said that for PVs and micro wind turbines to reach and be considered by the broader population, or as described by Rogers: the late major- ity, the economical hindrances need to be at least reduced. Swe- den has so far been restrictive to use subsidies to speed up the adoption pace, but in the short run this seems to be an impor- tant measure. Another issue that needs to be dealt with is the regulation, to make regulations more transparent so that peo- ple understand what they can expect from the grid companies when they for example want to sell electricity back to the grid. There is also a need for simpler rules, but that is probably on its way. The market for this technology is still rather immature in Sweden and there is a lack of routines for how to market and sell this kind of concepts. One example of this is the installation process which the households often are expected to handle on their own. To be able to reach a majority of the home-owners, there need to be established routines for the installation where the households, when buying the concepts, are offered instal- lation by professionals. Although the amount of electricity produced by such power plants might not become extensive in the near future, it is rea- sonable to suppose that they will be more common, not least due to rising electricity prices and greater demand for sustain- able energy production. Furthermore, as mentioned in the in- troduction, IKEA is planning to start distributing solar panels in their stores, which might speed up the spread of this technol- ogy in the broader population. References Aune M., 1998, Nøktern eller nytende Energiförbruk og hverdagsliv i norske husholdninger. Senter for teknologi og samfunn, Trondheim, NTNU, Department of Interdis- ciplinary Studies of Culture. Aune, M., 2001, Energy technology and everyday life – The domestication of Ebox in Norwegian households, paper presented at ECEEE 2001, available at: www.eceee.org/ conference_proceedings/eceee/2001/Panel_4/p4_1/ Paper/. Barr, S., 2002, Household Waste in Social Perspective: Values, Attitudes, Situations and Behaviour. Aldershot: Ashgate. Elliot, D., 2000, Renewable energy and sustainable futures, Futures, 32(3–4), 261–274. Faiers, A & Neame, C., 2006, Consumer attitudes towards do- mestic solar power systems, Energy Policy, 34, 1797–1806. Ghanem, D.A. (forthcoming) Dissertation School of Archi- tecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University. Greenpeace, 2005, Decentralising Power. An energy revolu- tion for the 21st Century, London, UK: Greenpeace. Guy, S. & Shove, E., 2000, A Sociology of Energy, Buildings and the Environment: constructing knowledge, designing practice, London: Routledge. Hallin P.-O. & Petersson, B. Å., 1986, De glömda aktörerna, Efn/AES report 1986:1, Stockholm: Energiforskning- snämnden. Hedrén, J., 2002, Critical notes on sustainability and democ- racy. In Svedin, S & Hägerhäll Aniansson, B (Eds), Sus- tainability, Local Democracy and the Future: The Swedish Model, Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Hedrén, J., 2008, Shaping sustainability: is there an unreleased potential in utopian thought?, Futures, Accepted manu- script doi:10.1016/j.futures.2008.09.005. Jager, W., 2006, Stimulating the diffusion of photovoltaic systems: A behavioural perspective, Energy Policy, 34, 1935–1943. Kaplan, A.W., 1999, From passive to active about solar electricity: innovation decision process and PV interest generation, Technovation, 19, 467–481. Keirstead, J., 2007, Behavioural responses to photovoltaic systems in the UK domestic sector. Energy Policy, 35, 4128–4141. Palm, J. & Löfström, 2008, Domestication of new technology in households, paper presented at 4S/EASST Meeting in Rotterdam, August 2008. Pacala, S. & Socolow, R., 2004, Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies, Science, (305) 968, 968–972. Pedersen, L.H., 2000, The dynamics of green consumption: a matter of visibility?, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning 2, 193–210. PVPS Annual Report, 2007, available at: http://www.iea-pvps. org/. Rogers, E.M., 2003, fifth edition, Diffusion of Innovations, New York: Free Press. SEA (Swedish Energy Agency), 2007, Energy in Sweden, ET2007:51, Eskilstuna: SEA. Silverstone, R & Hirsch, E., 1992, Consuming technologies. Media and information in Domestic Spaces, London: Routledge. Skill, K., 2008, (Re)creating Ecological Action Space: Householders´ Activities for Sustainable Development in Sweden, Linköping Studies of Arts and Science no 449, Linköping University. Acknowledgements This paper forms part of the research programme, Self pro- duced electricity for sustainable development, funded by El- forsk and Göteborg Energi AB Forskningsstiftelse.