The Influence of Customers' Demographic Variables on Awareness of Solar Energy

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Abstract

Energy is the vital element for the growth of the nation. With the rapid economic growth, energy continues to play a key role in the development. However, India largely depends on conventional sources for energy generation, puts the country in peril, with the limited fossil fuel resources. Solar energy has immense potential to bridge the burgeoning energy needs of our country in a sustainable manner. There are many constraints for the wider adoption of solar energy in India. Awareness towards solar energy is one of the major impediments for its growth. The current paper, focused to study three sets of awareness factors - solar energy awareness, awareness towards government subsidy and environmental wariness- of solar energy products with respect to the relationship with customer demographic characteristics. Survey method was adopted to collect responses using convenience sampling. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square test. The results revealed that gender and marital status do not have any significant relationship with awareness of solar energy products.

Keywords: Environmental awareness, Renewable energy, Solar energy, Solar energy awareness, Subsidy.

1. Introduction

Electricity is the vital input for economic growth as well as to improve the life standards of the people. According to International Energy Agency (2013) more than a billion people do not have basic electricity requirements. Research in the field of energy has been a central focus for many academicians, researchers and practioners (Cook, 2011; Javadi et al., 2013). United Nations declaring the year 2012 as the year of Sustainable Energy shows the significance of the renewable energy sources. And the decade 2014-2024, as the decade of Sustainable Energy by the UNO.

Solar energy plays a pivotal in electrifying the rural areas across the world where there is no access to grid connectivity. And replaces the conventional energy sources in an environmental friendly manner (Wamukonya, 2007; Chaurey and Kandpal, 2010; Kamalapur and Udaykumar, 2011).

* Associate Professor, School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India. Email : dr.chetansrivastava@gmail.com

** Research Scholar, School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad, India. mahendar.sm@gmail.com

The Influence of Customers' Demographic

Variables on Awareness of Solar Energy

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Solar energy is the process of conversion of sun light into electricity. Solar energy can be produced by Photovoltaic (PV) using sun light or solar thermal systems using heat generated by the sun. Generation of solar energy falls into four categories namely, grid for domestic purposes, off-grid for nondomestic, on off-grid for distribution and centralized off-grid connectivity (International Energy Agency). Almost 600,000 villages in India do not have reliable electricity supply due to lack of grid connectivity, where solar energy systems could play a significant role to provide electricity facilities. Government of India established National Solar Mission in 2010 to cater the energy needs of the country using solar energy sources.

2. Review of literature

The review of literature section discusses various studies conducted about customers' awareness levels: awareness towards solar energy systems, awareness towards government subsidy and environmental awareness.

2.1 Solar energy awareness

Lack of awareness of solar energy is one of the major impediments to the adoption of solar energy systems. A study by Karatepe, Varbak Ne?e, Keçeba?, and Yumurtac? (2012), revealed that various educating programmes about renewable energy to be conducted to raise students' awareness and sensitivity in the field. Adoption of new technology commands the awareness of customers/ public (Foster and Rosenzweig, 1995; Bandiera and Rasul, 2006; Mainali and Silveira, 2011). According to Rebane and Barham (2011), lack of awareness towards solar energy is a major barrier for the widespread of solar energy market. A study conducted by Appelbaum and Cuciti (2003) in USA revealed that customers' knowledge about solar energy products is related to their preference to adopt solar energy. Aileen Varela-Margolles Jeffrey Onsted (2014) concluded that information dissemination plays an active role in the ownership of solar energy systems.

2.2 Awareness towards subsidy/financial incentives

According to Arthur A. Ezra, (1975) a variety of incentives induce the customers to adopt new technology. Government subsidy is provided for energy generation in many countries across the world (WB, 2010). Catherine A. Durham, Bonnie G. Colby and Molly Longstreth (1988) found that tax credits provided by the government influence the solar energy adoption. Majority of the customers are not aware of the various financing schemes related to energy efficiency programmes (Jyoti Prasad Painuly, (2009). Aileen Varela-Margolles Jeffrey Onsted (2014), incentives significantly increases the adoption of solar energy systems.

2.3 Environmental awareness

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A study conducted by European Opinion Research Group (EORG) revealed that environmental awareness and their behaviour is influenced by people's social back ground (EORG, 2002).

Schwepker and Cornwell (1991) indicated that people have basic awareness towards the environmental issues. Their attitudes and intentions may change with environmental awareness levels.

According to Stanley and Lasonde (1996) found that customers with high environmental awareness levels tend to engage in environmental behaviours, including purchase and disposal in an environmental friendly manner.

3. Objective of the Study

The objective of the study was to know the influence of customers' demographic characteristics on awareness ofsolar energy systems.

4. Research Methodology

The current study is empirical in nature. A structured questionnaire with demographic details and questions related to solar energy awareness, awareness towards government subsidy and environmental awareness were framed in order to elicit responses from the respondents. Convenience sampling technique was adopted to collect primary data. Secondly data sources include magazines and reports related to renewable energy. The survey was conducted in Hyderabad city of Telangana State. The survey instrument was distributed to 200 respondents;however 126 usable questionnaires with a response rate of 63% were collected. Descriptive statistics and Chi-square test were used for data analysis with the aid of MS Excel and SPSS 21.0.

Questions such as awareness towards fossil fuels, awareness towards renewable energy, awareness towards solar energy, know someone using solar energy were asked to generate responses with reference to solar energy awareness.

To know the awareness levels of customers about government subsidy, respondents were asked if they know the government financial facilities, any other financial incentives or any programs related to the dissemination of subsidy related information by the government or public agencies.

Finally, questions related electricity saving behaviours at home or workplace, awareness towards environmental protection (air, water pollution etc.) were posed to know public's environmental awareness.

4.1 Hypotheses of the Study

H1: Solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness are not different based on gender of the customer.

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H3: Solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness are not different based on educational qualification of the customer.

H4: Solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness are not different based on marital status of the customer.

H5: Solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness are not different based on household monthly income of the customer.

H6: Solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness are not different based on occupation of the customer.

5. Data analysis

5.1 Demographic profile

Table 1. Demographic profile of respondents

Category N Percentage

(%)

Gender Male

Female

77 49

61.1 38.9

Age (Yrs.) 18-25

26-30 31-35 36-50 Above 50 19 23 34 38 12 15.1 18.3 27 30.1 9.5 Educational qualification SSC Intermediate UG PG Other 39 36 27 9 15 31 28.6 21.4 7.1 11.9 Marital status Married

Unmarried 97 29 77 23 Household Monthly income Below 10,000 10,000-25,000 25,000-40,000 40,000-50,000 Above 50,000 22 45 28 22 9 17.5 35.7 22.2 17.5 7.1

Occupation Student

Business Private employee Public servant Unemployed Retired Housewife 6 41 39 17 2 3 18 4.8 32.5 31 13.5 1.6 2.3 14.3

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From the table 1, it is observed that majority of the respondents i.e. 62% are male. It is also noticed that respondents having educational qualification less UG are 60%. In the age category 60% of the respondents are below the age of 35 years. More than half of the respondents household monthly incomes are low and belong to the lower classes and lower middle classes. And more than three fourth of the respondents are married.

5.2 Hypotheses testing

H1: Gender and solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness.

From the results of table 2, it is observed that, solar energy awareness (2=12.176, df=12,

sig=0.105), awareness of subsidy (2=14.624, df=12, sig=0.243) and environmental awareness

(2=13.915, df=12, sig=0.061) are insignificantly related with the gender of the customer. Therefore,

H1 is not accepted.

Table 2 : Test Statistics

Solar energy awareness

Awareness of subsidy

Environmental awareness

Chi-Square 12.176 14.624 13.915

df 12 12 12

Asymp. Sig. 0.105 0.243 0.061

Result Reject Reject Reject

H2: Age and solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness.

Results from table 3 explain that, solar energy awareness (2=10.572, df=4, sig=0.045),

awareness of subsidy (2=8.478, df=4, sig=0.038) and environmental awareness (2=9.124, df=4,

sig=0.021) are significantly related with the age of the customer. Therefore, H2 is accepted.

Table 3 : Test Statistics

Solar energy awareness

Awareness of subsidy

Environmental awareness

Chi-Square 10.572 8.478 9.124

df 4 4 4

Asymp. Sig. 0.045 0.038 0.021

Result Accept Accept Accept

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Results from table 4 indicate that, solar energy awareness (2=11.015, df=3, sig=0.05), awareness

of subsidy (2=10.412, df=3, sig=0.041) and environmental awareness (2=9.619, df=3, sig=0.026)

are significantly related with the educational qualification of the customer. Therefore, H3 is accepted.

Table 4 : Test Statistics

Sol ar energy awareness

Awareness of subsidy

Environmental awareness

Chi-Square 11.015 10.412 9.619

df 3 3 3

Asymp. Sig. 0.05 0.041 0.026

Result Accept Accept Accept

H4: Marital status and solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness. It is observed from table 5 that, solar energy awareness (2=15.612, df=3, sig=0.347), awareness

of subsidy (2=14.910, df=3, sig=0.214) and environmental awareness (2=13.409, df=3, sig=0.148)

are insignificant with the marital status of the customer. Therefore, H4 is not accepted.

Table 5 Test Statistics

Solar energy

awareness

Awareness

of subsidy

Environmental

awareness

Chi-Square

15.612

14.910

13.409

df

3

3

3

Asymp. Sig.

0.347

0.214

0.148

Result

Reject

Reject

Reject

H5: Household monthly income and solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness.

It is understood from table 6 that, solar energy awareness (2=7.54, df=4, sig=0.01), awareness

of subsidy (2=6.814, df=4, sig=0.03) are significantly related with the household monthly income of

the customer whereas environmental awareness (2=12.125, df=4, sig=0.12) is insignificant.

Table 6 : Test Statistics

Solar energy

awareness

Awareness

of subsidy

Environmental

awareness

Chi-Square

7.54

6.814

12.125

df

4

4

4

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H6: Occupation and solar energy awareness, awareness of subsidy and environmental awareness.

The values from table 7 show that, solar energy awareness (2=15.014, df=4, sig=0.042),

awareness of subsidy (2=13.714, df=4, sig=0.038) and environmental awareness (2=14.059, df=4,

sig=0.02) are insignificant with the occupation of the customer. Therefore, H6 is accepted.

Table 7 : Test Statistics

Solar energy awareness

Awareness of subsidy

Environmental awareness

Chi-Square 15.014 13.714 14.059

df 4 4 4

Asymp. Sig. 0.042 0.038 0.02

Result Accept Accept Accept

6. Conclusion

Customer awareness plays a major role to create a positive attitude towards the adoption of solar energy systems. This was achieved by studying the influence of demographics on awareness towards solar energy systems, subsidy facilities provided by the government and environmental awareness. The current research considered the influence of demographic factors on basic awareness levels of customers towards solar energy systems. The results of the study indicate that customers' age, educational qualification, income and occupation are significant with respect to the awareness of solar energy products, awareness towards subsidy and environmental awareness whereas the other demographic characteristics - gender and marital status - are notsignificantly related. On the positive note, a significant number of customers have basic awareness towards solar energy system.

References

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3. Arthur A. Ezra, (1975). Science, New Series, Vol. 187, No. 4178 (Feb. 28, 1975), pp. 707-713

4. Becker, L. J. (1978). Joint effect of feedback and goalsetting on performance: a field study of residentialenergy conservation. Journal of Applied Psychology, (63),428-433

5. Borden, R. J. & Schettino, A. P. (19791. Determinants of environmentally responsible behavior. The Journal ofEnvironmental Education, (10),35-39.

6. Catherine A. Durham, Bonnie G. Colby and Molly Longstreth (1988). The Impact of State Tax Credits and Energy Prices on Adoption of Solar Energy Systems. Land Economics, 64 (4), 347-355

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9. Jyoti Prasad Painuly (2009). Financing energy efficiency:lessons from experiences in India and China. International Journal of Energy Sector Management.3 (3), 293-307.

10. Karatepe, Y., Varbak Ne?e, S., Keçeba?, A., & Yumurtac?, M. (2012). The levels of awareness about the renewable energysources of university students in Turkey. Renewable Energy, 44(1), 174-179.

11. Katzev, R. D. & Johnson, T. R. (1984). Comparing theeffects of monetary incentives and foot-in-the-doorstrategies in promoting residential electricity conservation.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, (14), 12-27.

12. Kollmuss, A. and Agyeman, J., (2002). Mind the gap: why do people act environmentallyand what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior?.Environmental EducationResearch, 8(3), 239-260.

13. Maloney, M. P. & Ward, M. P. (1973). Ecology: let's hearfrom the people. American Psychologist, (28), 583-586.

14. Panni, M.F.A.K., 2006. The Effect of Consumerism towards customer attitudinal behavior in food industry in Malaysia. M.Phil. Multimedia University.

15. Schwepker, C.H. Jr and Cornwell, T. (1991). An examination of ecologically concernedconsumers and their intention to purchase ecologically packaged products. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 10 (12), 77-101.

16. Stanley, L.R. and Lasonde, K.M. (1996). The relationship between environmental issue involvement and environmentally-conscious behavior: an exploratory study.Advances in Consumer Research, 23, 183-188.

Figure

Table 1. Demographic profile of respondents

Table 1.

Demographic profile of respondents. View in document p.4
Table 2 : Test Statistics

Table 2.

Test Statistics. View in document p.5
Table 3 : Test Statistics

Table 3.

Test Statistics. View in document p.5
Table 4 :  Test Statistics

Table 4.

Test Statistics. View in document p.6
Table 5 Test Statistics

Table 5.

Test Statistics. View in document p.6
Table 6 : Test Statistics

Table 6.

Test Statistics. View in document p.6
Table 7 : Test Statistics

Table 7.

Test Statistics. View in document p.7

References

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