Technology Adoption, Saudi And UK Households: An International Comparative Analysis of Intention to Embrace Solar Energy

Alsulami, Abdulkarim (2023) Technology Adoption, Saudi And UK Households: An International Comparative Analysis of Intention to Embrace Solar Energy. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Governments worldwide now appreciate the pressing need to achieve carbon ‘net-zero’, which requires consumers to adopt ‘cleaner’ innovative technologies, such as renewable energy (RE), to reduce their carbon footprint. Renewable energy systems (RES) have therefore attracted much research attention. In such a context, this thesis investigates the factors which could influence consumer intentions to adopt a RES (solar panels) for their own homes. The research comprises three linked studies, the first two focused on Saudi Arabia and the third on the UK, to allow some cultural comparisons, since RE has already been adopted by many UK consumers while, in Saudi Arabia, solar technology is underdeveloped, despite the climate. However, the Saudi government’s Vision 2030 strategy includes reducing dependency on oil and the introduction of more RES.

The overall thesis uses a mixed-methods approach, the first study being quantitative and the second and third being qualitative. Study One used a self-administrated online questionnaire, taking the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) as a theoretical framework. Its aim was to examine which factors may encourage or inhibit the intention to adopt RE among Saudi consumers, taking demographic variables as potential moderators between attitudes to RE and intention to adopt it. Study Two builds on the insights gleaned from the survey by applying the verbal protocol analysis (VPA) and the semi-structured interview method to thirty home-owning Saudi consumers, who were their household’s principal decision-makers, to deepen the understanding of Saudi consumers’ decision-making processes, while examining a solar energy company’s real-life brochure.

Study Three aimed to collect in-depth information about the decision-making processes of thirty UK consumers who are considering adopting a solar energy product. It employed the same methodology as used in Study Two, applying it to UK consumers who had not previously had any solar energy equipment installed at their properties. This comparative study provides a comparison between UK consumers and those in Saudi Arabia, countries with contrasting cultures and stages in the development of a RES market.

The three studies demonstrated the differing priorities of consumers in the two countries, arising from different cultural attitudes and varying levels of experience of RE. The findings of Study One and Two indicate that, in Saudi Arabia, consumers lack knowledge about RE, which deters them from adopting solar energy systems, while in the UK, the most serious barrier to installation of the product is lack of perceived behavioural control (PBC). Moreover, the issue of stewardship of the environment is viewed differently in Saudi Arabia and the UK, Saudi consumers regarding it as of secondary importance. However, although it is important to UK consumers, the costs involved in installing solar energy panels mean that many cannot adopt them, despite wishing to support environment-friendly technologies.

Amongst Saudi consumers, social influence was a very important factor in promoting RE adoption. This held far less sway with UK consumers, although many did say that they would appreciate the chance to talk to consumers who had already adopted a solar energy system to learn from their experience of the process. UK consumers were also shown to require in-depth information about the solar energy product, particularly concerning the warranty, product quality and testing, and the amounts of electricity generated, without which they were not prepared to reach a decision.

A significant moderating effect was found for gender, age and family size on the relationship between attitude to RE and intention to adopt RE among Saudi consumers.

The thesis concludes that, in Saudi Arabia, there is a need for greater knowledge of RE, which could be fostered through educational campaigns and via social influence. Meanwhile, in the UK, where financial concerns were of such importance, there is a need for the provision of monetary incentives as well as clear quality assurance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > Norwich Business School
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2023 11:09
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2023 11:09

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