A consumer assessment of household attitudes, awareness, drivers and likelihood of installing solar water heaters under a monthly payment scheme in Cape Town, South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This paper reviews how incentive mechanisms impact solar water heater (SWH) technology adoption under both monthly payment scheme (MPS) and non-monthly payment scheme (non-MPS) conditions. The key research problem is to try understand why consumers1 have not installed SWHs under non-MPS conditions and whether a MPS can generate better installation rates. SWHs generate clean energy by using the heat of the sun instead of electricity to heat household water. On average, SWHs displace 30 % of household electricity usage, decreasing both household electricity costs and national electricity supply. South Africa has favourable solar conditions and encouraging policy support in the form of long term targets and subsidy incentive schemes. However, it appears that these mechanisms are unable to rapidly incentivise South Africa’s mid to high income households to install SWH units. This paper reviews the MPS incentive mechanism, to examine if it can create a larger scale adoption of SWHs, with the key research question being: ‘How does the monthly payment scheme influence consumer behaviour and their likelihood of adopting solar water heater technologies in the City of Cape Town?’ An important corollary of the research is to gain an understanding of the nature and successes of MPSs in other SWH markets and industry environments. This paper uses case studies to examine successful MPSs in the US PV residential market and in Tunisia’s state-supported SWH program. In order to determine the likelihood of SWH adoption in Cape Town, existing consumer sentiment towards SWHs must be properly understood. Consumer attitudes, awareness and drivers to adopt SWHs will inform the likelihood of adoption, both under MPS and non-MPS conditions. Therefore, this paper investigates the three variables of attitudes, awareness and drivers and the ultimate likelihood of SWH adoption through a questionnaire targeted at respondents from mid to high income households in Cape Town.

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