Solar is Contagious

A new study by researchers at Yale and the University of Connecticut adds more evidence to the theory of how important peer effects are at driving solar adoption.

From the abstract:

Our empirical estimation demonstrates a strong relationship between adoption and the number of nearby previously installed systems as well as built environment and policy variables. The effect of nearby systems diminishes with distance and time, suggesting a spatial neighbor effect conveyed through social interaction and visibility. (emphasis added)

This captures exactly what motivated us to start Pretty Visible, even down to the name!

As the Washington Post Wonkblog summarized in its post on this study, "The installation of one additional solar photovoltaic rooftop project within the past six months in a given area increased the average number of installations within a half mile radius by .44, or almost one half... Within a mile radius, the installation of one solar panel in the prior 6 months increased installations by .39, and within a 1 to 4 mile radius, by .12."

Not surprisingly, peer effects go down as physical distance increases and social interactions and visibility decrease. This study suggests a big opportunity to increase solar adoption by finding ways to harness the power of social proof beyond the normal boundaries of neighborly interaction.

Our goal with Pretty Visible is to do exactly that by taking social proof online. We're creating a map-based search platform and online community that makes it easy for homeowners to see the solar all around them and to interact with nearby solar owners to get practical advice on installers, financing and technology.

As the Wonkblog reports, "Gillingham [the author] says the research suggests that it can be very important for houses who have just installed solar panels to let the installer put up a yard sign, especially if the installation is on the back of the house."

I guess you could say that we're aiming with Pretty Visible to let solar owners put up a giant virtual yard sign to make their systems visible to the world.

Check us out, we're taking beta signups now and will be launching pretty soon!