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Towards improved solar energy justice: Exploring the complex inequities of household adoption of photovoltaic panels

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

DOI

  • Benjamin K. Sovacool
  • Max Lacey Barnacle, University of Sussex
  • ,
  • Adrian Smith, University of Sussex
  • ,
  • Marie Claire Brisbois, University of Sussex

Solar energy, including household and community based solar photovoltaic panels, is the fastest growing source of low-carbon electricity worldwide, and it could become the single largest source of renewable energy by mid-century. But what negative equity and justice issues may be associated with its adoption? What risks are being accelerated as solar energy grows exponentially in its deployment? In this study, we rely on a mixed methods research design involving household solar interviews (N = 24), site visits (N = 4 solar neighbourhoods), and a literature review to investigate four types of inequities associated with household solar adoption. We utilize a novel framework looking at demographic inequities (between groups), spatial inequities (across geographic scales), interspecies inequities (between humans and non-humans), and temporal inequities (across present and future generations). This framework enables not only the identification of multiple and often interlinked inequities; it also points the way towards how to make solar energy adoption more sustainable and just, with direct implications for solar business practices (and supply chains) as well as energy and climate policy.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer112868
TidsskriftEnergy Policy
Vol/bind164
ISSN0301-4215
DOI
StatusUdgivet - maj 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from UK Research and Innovation as well as the JPI SOLSTICE 2020 scheme through the “Responsive Organising for Low Emission Societies (ROLES)” Project, Grant Agreement No. ES/V01403X/1.

Funding Information:
Second, we call for policy incentives that lower the cost of rural adoption along with targeted interventions that prioritize areas high in deprivation. There is a growing recognition that financial innovations are key to increasing both social inclusion and widespread adoption in solar PV deployment. As seen in recent UK policy proposals for new interest-free loan systems to support the wider uptake of EV's across the UK (Trinkon, 2021), we feel such a system could be advanced in the UK, with a more holistic approach that features interest-free loans for solar PV, electric vehicles and batteries at the domestic scale. Where possible, this should also be supported by tax incentives and grants (Curtin et al., 2017). Financial innovations that target only one technology without considering the interlinked impacts on other energy services (e.g. interest-free loans for electric vehicles could raise low-income homes' electricity costs without other interventions) may result in new injustices. Cautious thinking needs to take place and innovative policy packages that cater to critical interlinkages between low-carbon technologies need to be supported by the UK government. For instance, a two-tier system could emerge that offers grants and interest-free loans for low-income homes (to reduce the payback period and potential financial risk) and interest-free loans and/or tax incentives for middle income homes in particularly underserved, remote and rural locations. Recent research shows these two groups, particularly when overlapping, to be some of the most vulnerable in low-carbon transitions (Simcock et al., 2021).The authors gratefully acknowledge support from UK Research and Innovation as well as the JPI SOLSTICE 2020 scheme through the ?Responsive Organising for Low Emission Societies (ROLES)? Project, Grant Agreement No. ES/V01403X/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

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