Missouri S&T researchers study factors affecting renewable energy adoption

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On June 9, 2020

Portrait of Dr. Islam El-adaway at Butler-Carlton Hall

Dr. Islam El-adaway is researching the economic and social factors affecting solar power adoption. Photo: Missouri S&T.

Researchers at Missouri S&T have received $250,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how utility customers use electricity, how utility companies distribute power, and how consumer acceptance levels and economic factors affect the adoption of renewable energy, specifically solar power.

“We want to understand the factors that affect electricity use and adoption of solar energy,” says Dr. Islam El-adaway, Hurst-McCarthy Professor of Civil Engineering at Missouri S&T, who is conducting the research with Ph.D. student Gasser Ali. “This is one of multiple steps we hope to take. Once we understand more about economic factors and customers’ attitudes, we can take it to the next level.”

El-adaway says solar power can offer several benefits to consumers, including lower costs and greater reliability and power quality as traditional power plants age and may be taken offline.

The researchers will collect and analyze electricity usage and transmission data to forecast how communities are changing through consumer behavior and utility company needs.

With their collaborators at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK), El-adaway and Ali are working closely with the southeastern electric grid of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to gather information about the physical components of TVA’s electric grid: transmission lines, the AC transmission grid and generating units. The researchers will use customer surveys to determine how residential electric consumers use power and how motivated they are to participate in programs that allow them to reduce power consumption during periods of higher prices. Researchers will also gather information from commercial power users about their experience and concerns with solar power.

Ultimately, the research findings will be incorporated into courses at Missouri S&T and will be used to raise public awareness of the benefits of solar power by offering panel sessions and exercises at national conferences, regional workshops, and local meetings with consumers, business leaders and utility operators.

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One thought on “Missouri S&T researchers study factors affecting renewable energy adoption”

  • Andres says:

    Thanks for the interesting article! I’d be very curious to see what results from this study. Would it be possible to obtain a copy of the final report once published? I’m very interested in their findings as I often engage with others in my network about solar power adoption and find most of the time there is resistance to adoption due to a lack of understanding in how solar energy can benefit individuals or organizations financially. Many times those I’ve spoken with are inclined to help with becoming more sustainable, but they have not read nor been informed sufficiently of the details to how this can also impact their bottom line. Helping others see the short and long term financial benefits unfortunately seems to drive home the adoption of solar; although not always. For example, many people don’t even know that a federal tax credit exists to help offset the cost of solar installations. Currently, its 26% until the end of 2020 and it decreases to 22% in 2021. After that, the credit for individuals phases out and a 10% credit remains indefinitely for businesses. This is just one of the financial benefits of installing solar, not to mention the various other incentives which exist and vary for each state.