Stakeholder dynamics in residential solar energy adoption: findings from focus group discussions in Germany

Fabian Scheller*, Isabel Doser, Emily Schulte, Simon Johanning, Russell McKenna, Thomas Bruckner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Although there is a clear indication that stages of residential decision making are characterized by their own stakeholders, activities, and outcomes, many studies on residential low-carbon technology adoption only implicitly address stage-specific dynamics. This paper explores stakeholder influences on residential photovoltaic adoption from a procedural perspective, so-called stakeholder dynamics. The major objective is the understanding of underlying mechanisms to better exploit the potential for residential photovoltaic uptake. Four focus groups have been conducted in close collaboration with the independent institute for social science research SINUS Markt- und Sozialforschung in East Germany. By applying a qualitative content analysis, major influence dynamics within three decision stages are synthesized with the help of egocentric network maps from the perspective of residential decision-makers. Results indicate that actors closest in terms of emotional and spatial proximity such as members of the social network represent the major influence on residential PV decision-making throughout the stages. Furthermore, decision-makers with a higher level of knowledge are more likely to move on to the subsequent stage. A shift from passive exposure to proactive search takes place through the process, but this shift is less pronounced among risk-averse decision-makers who continuously request proactive influences. The discussions revealed largely unexploited potential regarding the stakeholders local utilities and local governments who are perceived as independent, trustworthy and credible stakeholders. Public stakeholders must fulfill their responsibility in achieving climate goals by advising, assisting, and financing services for low-carbon technology adoption at the local level. Supporting community initiatives through political frameworks appears to be another promising step.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102065
Number of pages18
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date24 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Sinus Markt- und Sozialforschung GmbH and especially the project team members Jochen Resch, Silke Borgstedt, and James Rhys Edwards for the cooperation in organizing and conducting the focus group meetings. Fabian Scheller, Emily Schulte, Isabel Doser, Simon Johanning receive funding from the project SUSIC (Smart Utilities and Sustainable Infrastructure Change) with the project number 1722 0710. This study is financed by the Saxon State government out of the State budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament. Fabian Scheller also kindly acknowledges the financial support of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 713683 (COFUNDfellowsDTU).

Data Availability Statement

Supplementary data associated with this article can be found, in the
online version, at


  • Decision-making process
  • Focus group discussions
  • Policy-induced adoption decisions
  • Residential photovoltaic
  • Social influence


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