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Fear and cost are the main barriers to investment in renewable energy

Posted by Jennifer Arran on 11 April 2013 at 9:48 am

Awareness of microgeneration has increased since last year, but fear has become a much stronger barrier to uptake according to our new research. Our Microgen Insight Service team held focus groups of owner occumpiers last month as part of our ongoing research programme.

Some customers said fear is a bigger concern than the up-front costs of the technology. This fear can manifest itself in a variety of ways – but it is clear that the latest delay to the domestic RHI will, for many, reinforce the lack of trust in incentives and undermine customer confidence in the technology further.   

Some of the key themes from the focus groups are highlighted below:

In principle, customers like many of the new technologies and their awareness of these technologies is improving.

Compared to last year’s research, the Delta-ee focus groups revealed that customers have an improving awareness of microgeneration. Emerging technologies also have high customer appeal in principle. Most participants were open to trying new technology – “I’m not in love with my boiler, I would try something new”.

What’s stopping home-owners from investing in new technologies?

The majority of responses to this question were fear and cost. Many feel that up-front cost is a key barrier, and compared to our results 12 months ago, home owners are much more fearful. 

The magic 5% of customers are more sensitive to up-front costs than ever. Green issues and other motivations for installing have weakened. It’s all about cost for many people.

Home owners are also scared of making the wrong decision and are sceptical about the reliability of government incentives. They worry about the performance and longevity of new technology, and being stuck with something which has quickly become obsolete. They feel that investing in new technology would be a ‘leap of faith’ at this stage, and that many of the promises made about benefits are ‘too good to be true’. 

What do the magic 5% of customers need to invest?

The types of support we have identified that would win over the magic 5% includes:

• A longer than average warranty – which would include free maintenance and parts if the system breaks down.

• A servicing and maintenance contract – which many are willing to pay for.

• Independent energy advisors – to offer neutral advice and be a go-to person.

• A safety net – protecting customers and providing a source of technical support if their system breaks, and the installer is no longer in business.

• Bespoke case studies – demonstrating the fuel bill savings they could expect in a home like theirs.

Access to more detailed information from the research is available to subscribers to Delta e-e's Microgen Insight Service

Photo Credit: JohnGiez- via Compfight cc

About the author: Jennifer Arran is an analyst at Delta Energy & Environment

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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