Photovoltaic Adoption in the Ghanaian Building Industry: Perceptions and Relational Dynamics of Innovation Adoption decision Factors

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In Ghana, where there is a need to decrease demand on the national grid and also increase the renewable component of the nation’s energy mix, photovoltaics1 seem like a plausible means of achieving both goals simultaneously especially by incorporating them in new buildings in urban areas. However, experiences with solar energy technology adoption and diffusion globally reveal that adoption and diffusion are influenced by a wide variety of factors that may be social, cultural, economic, technical and institutional; and an appreciation of the factors that play a role in a given context within which the technologies are to be adopted is essential to their successful adoption and diffusion. Consequently, an understanding of the innovation behaviour of potential adopters of this technology is relevant so as to manage the innovation diffusion process adequately. For this reason, this research identifies and evaluates the potential factors that may influence photovoltaic adoption in the Ghanaian building industry. Guided by Rogers’ (1995) diffusion of innovation theory and a framework by Hartmann et. al., (2006), the research employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods to achieve the research aim which is to describe and understand the potential factors that may influence photovoltaic adoption in the Ghanaian building industry. The quantitative aspect involved the use of a cross-sectional survey of clients, architects, electrical and mechanical engineers in the Ghanaian building industry. A total of one hundred and thirtytwo valid responses were obtained and the data obtained were analysed using Relative Importance Indices, Pearson chi-square, Fisher’s exact test, Cramer’s V and Mann-Whitney U statistical tests. In the qualitative aspect of the study, a holistic multiple case study research design was employed. The study focused on three products in the Ghanaian building industry: prestressed beams and blocks for floor construction, pozzolana cement and asphaltic shingles. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews. In all, twelve individuals (clients, consultants and supplier representatives) were interviewed and thematic analysis was used as the tool for data analysis. In the survey, the worldwide web was identified as the most prevalently used communication channel and information from consultants/other building participants was rated as the most reliable channel. The certainty of an innovations future performance was rated as the most important factor in a decision to adopt or reject it. Seventy-five percent (75%) of respondents knew about photovoltaics technology and although there was a generally favourable perception of the technology, actual adoption was approximately twenty-three percent (23%). The case study revealed that although the innovation attributes had an important influence on the adoption or rejection on the cases studied, the extent of influence is dependent on the other factors which relate to the context and the communication channels used, hence, the context is most relevant in view of the modulations of the other adoption factors. The major contribution of the study to academia is that it tests and extends the innovation diffusion theory by applying it within a new contextthe Ghanaian building industry. Furthermore, Hartmann et. al.’s (2006) framework is tested within a different country and among private rather than public clients thereby focussing on a social system different from that of Hartmann and his colleagues. Practically, the results of the study can be used to guide change agents’ promotional efforts through the formulation of principles discerned from the patterns in the data collected that could guide future action.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Building Technology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.