PROJECT PROFILE: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (SEEDS2-SES)

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Project Name: Coupled Social and Infrastructure Approaches for Enhancing Solar Energy Adoption
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 2 – State Energy Strategies (SEEDS2-SES)
SunShot Subprogram: Soft Costs
Location: Blacksburg, VA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,225,961
Awardee Cost Share: N/A

This project identifies social and behavioral factors that influence the adoption of solar in rural areas and incorporates that information into diffusion models using agent-based modeling technology and synthetic information systems. These diffusion models will integrate social, behavioral, financial, and demographic data. The project's primary data collection area is in the state of Virginia, but the results are anticipated to inform rural communities throughout the country.

APPROACH

The project team works with electric cooperatives and uses energy consumption data, consumer preference data, and social contact network information to study the diffusion of solar energy adoption by developing a model that delivers a solar adoption propensity score for individual households. Using this model, a prototype tool is developed to help study market segmentation in rural areas with regards to solar energy.  The prototype tool will be available to electric cooperatives across the country to help increase solar penetration in rural areas. In addition, the team conducts policy-oriented case studies, based off of simulation results using the model developed in this project.

INNOVATION

This project will allow for expansion of modern agent-based modeling efforts that help simulate individual adoption patterns by incorporating peer effects into the modeling to better understand the effects communities have on decisions to adopt solar.