Inderscience Publishers

Who uses innovative energy technologies, when and why? The case of fuel cell MicroCHP in households

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Users can play an important role in the diffusion of sustainable energy technologies. Using a postal survey and focus group discussions, the paper explores the characteristics, motives and expectations of household users in the case of fuel cell?driven small combined heat and power plants. (Potential) users are highly educated and well off, almost exclusively male and relatively old. Their main motive is their desire to be at the forefront of technological development that they perceive to be environmentally benign. At the same time, they feel the fuel cell lacks cost-effectiveness, reliability and user friendliness. They are willing to give the immature technology a chance, but strongly point to the necessity to remedy the deficits in order to reach a mass market. They are keen on spreading the word about the novelty, and can be expected to be successful communicators. Therefore, these pioneer users are relevant multipliers and valuable partners for technology developers.

Keywords: diffusion, sustainable energy, fuel cells, innovation, cogeneration, microcogeneration, pioneers, sustainability, sustainable development, energy technology, environmental technology, users, microCHP, household CHP, combined heat and power

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