A Systems Methodology for Informed Solar Energy Decision-Making; Analyzing the Social Influences Behind Solar Power Adoption in the United States

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0009-0009-1852-3153
Shields, Liam, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Bailey, Reid, EN-SIE, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

While the photovoltaic effect was discovered in 1839, it was not until the past 40 years where solar technology has been attempted to assimilate into our society. In recent years, solar adoption in the United States has increased exponentially. The drivers behind solar adoption are influenced by many different key players including the government, solar technology companies, and consumers. These actors boast their own view of the technology and make decisions that greatly influence the adoption and advancement of solar in our country. This paper aims to uncover why these groups make certain decisions and study the consequences of their actions. A social construction of technology lens is used to analyze driving factors behind decisions made as well as study the history and potential future of solar adoption in the United States. Answering these questions will provide the ability to understand what actions taken can efficiently improve solar adoption as well as avoid decisions that may boast unintended consequences. Additionally, studying the interaction between human decision and its effect on the development of solar can shed light into the future of renewable energy and decarbonization. More generally, studying these interactions shows the gravity not only humans have on developing new technologies, but the ways new technologies shape our society in return.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Solar Adoption, Social Construction of Technology, Renewable Energy

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Systems and Information Engineering

Technical Advisor: Reid Bailey

STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook

Technical Team Members: Lauren Beachy, Hannah Billing, Jack Dreesen-Higginbotham, Morgan Griffin, Julia Lombardi

Issued Date: