Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies (SEEDS)

Solar photovoltaic panels are an increasingly competitive player in the energy market as the technology improves and the prices drop. The challenge of widespread diffusion is now behavioral as much as economic. Through large-scale experimentation, SEEDS is testing which strategies and messages are most conducive to solar adoption.


What motivates people to install rooftop solar panels? Which incentives or policies can rapidly boost the adoption of this technology? Which programs are persistently effective, and which are most easily scaled? The answers to these questions are essential for promoting a sustainable energy future.

Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, this research project draws together a set of partners including Yale University, Duke University, SmartPower, a social marketing firm, and the Connecticut Green Bank, to test these questions by examining the uptake of solar through the Solarize CT program. The project is also collecting information on social networks in order to model the relationship between social interaction and solar diffusion.

Solarize CT is a community based program that leverages social interaction to promote the adoption of solar through a group pricing scheme. In Solarize CT, volunteer residents ("Solar Ambassadors") coordinate community outreach around the Solarrize campaign. The ambassadors reach out to friends, family and community organizations who in turn spread the word to members and other friends. Solar information diffuses using social networks.

Out of this multidisciplinary collaboration, we will produce a guidebook for policymakers and business leaders detailing the most effective strategies for increasing solar uptake. 

Postdoctoral Scholar Opening

Applications are invited for a post-doctoral scholar position focused on applying behavioral economics to the adoption of solar energy. The postdoctoral scholar will work with Professor Kenneth Gillingham, professors at Duke University, and a team the Yale Center for Business and the Environment to help support a project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to perform a series of randomized controlled trials to better understand the adoption of solar energy and the value of targeting the location of solar energy.

The ideal candidate has a Ph.D. in economics or a related field, with a focus in environmental or behavioral economics. The position provides some support for independent research, such as publishing dissertation chapters. The post-doctoral scholar will be based at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and will be encouraged to participate in the broader Yale intellectual community.

This posting is for a one-year appointment with the expectation of renewal for a second year upon satisfactory performance. The starting date can be as soon as spring 2017 and is expected to be no later than fall 2017. Application review is rolling and will continue until the position is filled.

  • Application materials must be in PDF format and include a cover letter, CV, transcript, and three letters of reference.
  • Please have all applications materials and three letters of reference e-mailed directly to
  • Yale is an equal opportunity employer. Women, minorities, and veterans are encouraged to apply.

In the News

Washington Times: "Solar Panels Power Up in Connecticut", May 2015

KLIV San Jose with Barry Cinnamon: “What Influences People to Install Solar?” Nov 16, 2014

PrettyVisible Blog: “Solar is Contagious” Nov 12, 2014 “How Solar Power Spreads Among Neighbors ‘Like a Contagion’,” Nov 3, 2014 “Solar Power Growth in U.S. Neighbourhoods Could be Contagious (Study),” Oct 25, 2014 Solar power is contagious: Installing panels often means your neighbors will too, Oct 24, 2014

Washington Post: Why do people put solar on their roofs? Because other people put solar on their roofs, Oct 23, 2014

Washington Square News: “Stern, Yale Professors Team Up To Research Solar Energy,” Oct 1, 2013

New Haven Register: “Yale Receives $1.9 million Solar Grant,” Jan 30, 2013


Bollinger, B. and K. Gillingham (2012) Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels. Marketing Science, 31(6): 900-912. 

Spatial Patterns of Solar Photovoltaic System Adoption: The Influence of Neighbors and the Built Environment Marcello Graziano and Kenneth Gillingham, Journal of Economic Geography

Hurdles and Steps: Estimating Demand for Solar Photovoltaics Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Kenneth Gillingham


Project of Distinction Winner at PV America!  

On March 9, 2015 Solarize Connecticut and the SEEDS Research project was awarded the highly coveted “Project of Distinction Award” by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) at PV America in Boston. View the Press Release here.


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