Many incentives at the state and federal level exist for household adoption of renewable energy like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Despite generous financial incentives the adoption rate is low. We use the option value framework, which takes into account the benefit of delaying investment in response to uncertainty, to examine the decision by households to invest in solar PV. Using a simulation model, we determine optimal adoption times, critical values of discounted benefits, and adoption rates over time for solar PV investments using data from Massachusetts. We find that the option value multiplier is 1.6, which implies that the discounted value of benefits from solar PV needs to exceed installation cost by 60% for investment to occur. Without any policies, median adoption time is eight years longer under the option value decision rule compared to the net present value decision rule where households equate discounted benefits to installation cost. Rebates and other financial incentives decrease adoption time, but their effect is attenuated if households apply the option value decision rule to solar PV investments. Results suggest that policies that reduce the uncertainty in returns from solar PV investments would be most effective at incentivizing adoption.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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