Essays on consumer choices relevant to climate change : stated preference evidence from Germany

  • Aufsätze zu Konsumentenentscheidungen mit Bedeutung für den Klimawandel : bekundete Präferenzen aus Deutschland

Achtnicht, Martin; Madlener, Reinhard (Thesis advisor)

1. Aufl.. - Aachen : E.ON Energy Research Center, RWTH Aachen University (2013)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

In: FCN - Future energy consumer needs and behavior 11
Page(s)/Article-Nr.: IX, 156 S.

Zugl.: Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2013


One of the major challenges that our world faces today and in the future is human-induced climate change. The primary cause of global warming, leading to climate change, is the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transport, which increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are considered by many as the proverbial "silver bullet" to avoid the worst climate change scenarios. However, the support for and success of any effort to improve energy efficiency and expand renewable energies strongly depends on preferences and choices of consumers. In four distinct but related essays, the present doctoral thesis examines consumer preferences for alternative-fuel vehicles and building energy retrofits. It makes use of data from two dedicated Germany-wide surveys, one of car buyers and the other of house owners. Each of these surveys included a discrete choice experiment, where respondents were faced with hypothetical choice situations. The car buyers were asked to select the car they preferred most from sets of seven vehicles with different fuel types. The house owners, on the other hand, first selected their preferred retrofit alternative from binary choice sets and then indicated whether they would actually undertake the selected retrofit activity if it were on the market. Similar choice experiments have been used before in transportation and energy research. But in contrast to previous studies, this work includes a wider range of alternative fuels and explicitly considers environmental benefits of energy retrofits. Based on the choice data, barriers to the widespread adoption of alternative-fuel vehicles and building energy retrofits are identified, and it is examined to what extent environmental aspects influence consumer choice behavior in Germany. The doctoral thesis confirms existing evidence on the impact of fuel availability on demand for alternative-fuel vehicles, primarily coming from North America, in the German context (Chapter 2). It makes important contributions to the growing, but heterogeneous literature that seeks to elicit willingness to pay for carbon abatements, carbon offsets, or climate policy in general (Chapters 3 and 4). Finally, it attempts to explain the persistent low retrofit rate in Germany and makes suggestions on how to stimulate energy retrofits in an effective and cost-efficient way (Chapter 5).