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Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Social Sciences

First Advisor

Mark Rouleau


This thesis attempts to understand why people adopt or reject individual-use renewable energy technologies (IURET). I used factors from Everett Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation Theory to understand how people's perceptions towards the characteristics of a given IURET (such as price, compatibility, complexity, etc.), the characteristics of the individual adopter (such as innovativeness and environmental awareness), and the communication network (inter-personal communications and mass media) can influence adoption. An online questionnaire was sent to 101randomly selected Michigan households (using random digit dialing) to ask people whether or not they had adopted at least one IURET and to assess the above-mentioned factors from Rogers' theory. Data analysis was then conducted in SPSS using Chi-squared and binary logistic regression to determine the relationship between adoption behaviors (the dependent variable) and the factors from Rogers' theory (the independent variables) while controlling for education. The results show that Rogers' factors of price and observability and the control variable of education were all significant in explaining adoption but the other factors of Rogers' theory were not. For example, if individuals perceive the price of IURET to be reasonable or if they observe their neighbors using these technologies, then they are more likely to adopt. These results indicate that, if we want to promote greater adoption of IURET, we should focus our efforts on making the price of IURET more affordable through incentives and other mechanisms. Adopters should also be given some form of reward if they provide free demonstrations of their IURET in use to their neighbors to take advantage of the observability effects.