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Feedbacks among electric vehicle adoption, charging, and the cost and installation of rooftop solar photovoltaics

Abstract

Identifying feedback loops in consumer behaviours is important to develop policies to accentuate desired behaviour. Here, we use Granger causality to provide empirical evidence for feedback loops among four important components of a low-carbon economy. One loop includes the cost of installing rooftop solar (Cost) and the installation of rooftop solar (photovoltaics, PV); this loop is probably generated by learning by doing and reductions in the levelized cost of electricity. The second includes the purchase of electric vehicles (EV) and the installation of rooftop solar that is probably created by environmental complementarity. Finally, we address whether installing charging stations enhances the purchase of electric vehicles and vice versa; there is no evidence for a causal relation in either direction. Together, these results indicate ways to modify existing policy in ways that could trigger the Cost↔PV↔EV feedback loops and accelerate the transition to carbon-free technologies.

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Fig. 1: Causal relations among the four variables.
Fig. 2: Reliability of test statistics by zip code.

Data availability

Monthly observations for the purchase of electric vehicles are obtained from the MOR-EV programme. The location and number of public charging stations are obtained from the Alternative Fuels Data Center Station Locator electric vehicle supply equipment database54. Monthly installations of residential solar photovoltaic, which we term rooftop solar, and the cost of installation are obtained from the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standards Solar Carve-Out II Renewable Generation dataset55. These data and the computer code can be obtained are available on OpenBU, which is FAIR compliant and can be accessed through a globally unique and eternally persistent identifier, https://open.bu.edu/handle/2144/41462. This dataset is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

Code availability

The code is available on OpenBU, which is FAIR compliant, and can be accessed through a globally unique and eternally persistent identifier, https://hdl.handle.net/2144/40340.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the members of Project Link for comments on a preliminary version of this manuscript. We also thank F. Khan, K. Florini, Q. Hoarau, J. Jannsson and G. Wagner for comments on preliminary versions of this manuscript. Any mistakes that remain are solely our responsibility.

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Contributions

This project was conceived by R.K.K. and D.N. and modified by C.X. and S.G. D.N. compiled the data used in the original analysis. C.X. updated the data that were used in the analysis reported in the main text. R.K.K. took the lead in estimating the statistical models in Rats. D.N. wrote the first version of the manuscript, which was modified by R.K.K. with significant input from D.N., C.X. and S.G. R.K.K. took the lead in designing the figures and Fig. 2 was generated by C.X.

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Correspondence to Robert. K. Kaufmann.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Energy thanks Chien-fei Chen, Gregory Nemet and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Kaufmann, R.K., Newberry, D., Xin, C. et al. Feedbacks among electric vehicle adoption, charging, and the cost and installation of rooftop solar photovoltaics. Nat Energy 6, 143–149 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-020-00746-w

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