Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Cultural and Environmental Resource Management

Committee Chair

John Bowen

Second Committee Member

Elvin Delgado

Third Committee Member

Sterling Quinn

Abstract

Electricity generated through residential solar provides a low carbon source of electricity. However, diffusion of residential solar remains low across the United States. Growing this diffusion takes an understanding of localized uptake trends, which can focus policy and business efforts to help increase residential solar market penetration. This is the first research to investigate residential solar uptake in Washington State and to examine environmental education as a potential driver of residential solar uptake. Through a snapshot analysis which considers environmental, economic, education, and cultural variables the present research fills this gap. Triangulated results include mapping of variables, ordinary-least squares multiple variable regression, and an ethnography (n = 40). Relative strength of Environmental Education was ascertained through a survey of K-12 Washington Public School Principals (n = 139). Results identified a strong disparity between the liberal/urban Western Washington and the conservative/rural Eastern Washington. Degree of awareness of residential solar emerged as the primary qualitative result driving uptake, and can also be used to explain many of the statistical correlations. Marketing and awareness campaigns targeted at overcome low solar knowledge are likely the most cost effective ways of growing residential solar in Washington State.

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