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A study on the implementation of renewable heating technologies in the domestic sector in Ireland with implications on consumers' decision-making

Kennedy, Matthew, Basu, Biswajit
Journal of cleaner production 2013 v.44 pp. 133-142
case studies, consumer preferences, decision making, economic factors, energy policy, heat, innovation adoption, markets, policy analysis, renewable energy sources, Ireland
The paper critically reviews and explores the impact of renewable energy heat policies to induce technological change in Ireland. It is in response to the challenge of better understanding the broad effects and attributes of renewable energy policy instruments in Ireland and beyond. Using the Irish residential sector as a case study, and analysing data of more than 31,600 technology installations under the Irish Government's Greener Homes Scheme [GHS], the paper assesses the extent to which policy makers may be informed of the willingness of consumers to adopt these technologies in their homes. In doing so, it attempts to provide valuable guidance for policy evaluation in relation to renewable energy in the residential sector. It represents investment decisions and technological choice by the end user and reflects the growing concern among energy policy markets regarding the representation of user preferences. The overall intent is to investigate the implications of analysing different variables and their contribution to making more balanced renewable energy policies. It provides a critical analysis of the Greener Homes Scheme, the key instrument for implementing Ireland's renewable heating policy from 2006 to 2010, established to induce technological change within the residential sector. In assessing the impact of the Scheme, attention focuses on decision frameworks for technological choice and the treatment of market and behavioural failures. It considers how consumers have responded to new technological policies aimed at deploying renewable heat technologies, and the specific policies aimed at advancing certain technologies over others. Through a case study investigation, the paper explores the relationship and dependencies that influence consumers' decision-making regarding the choice of renewable energy heating technologies in the domestic sector in Ireland. Consumer preferences and their subsequent investment decisions, motives and technological choice are reflected. It concludes that while economic factors are important, a much broader variety of determinants is required when analysing the process of adoption of technology.