ABSTRACT: Consumers are no longer mere adopters of small-scale renewable energy technologies (S-RETs) such as solar, pellet and heat-pump technologies. Prosumers create new technology solutions, collaborate with other consumers, and share their ideas, knowledge and inventions with peers in online communities they have formed. These activities by consumers support the proliferation of sustainable energy technology in contexts where institutions and technology characteristics are not yet fully developed for the wide proliferation of S-RET. The issues in the market diffusion of cleaner micro-generation technologies are not limited to “barriers” or “challenges” to top-down diffusion. Given that prosumers do many things to aid the diffusion of S-RET, we investigated how consumer created technology solutions diffused: their existence adds to solution variety, but do others then pick this up? The findings show that 2.7% of the consumer innovations diffused through commercial channels and 8.2% diffused through their straight adoption by peers. A significant share of projects (34.1%) were part of “innovative peer diffusion” adaptations and further modifications carried out among peers. Prosumers’ efforts to diffuse their solutions remain low level and indicate directions for platform development by which prosumer solutions may spread more widely.
Renewable energy; Open innovation; Diffusion of innovation; Online innovation communities; User innovation; Consumer innovation