Public understanding of renewable energy technologies in Nigeria.
Wojuola, Rosemary Nike.
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Globally, there is a focus on generating energy from renewable energy sources in order to ensure sustainability. However, experience has shown that although the public generally accepts Renewable Energy Technology (RET), there is always opposition to their implementation. Renewable energy education is essential for the successful implementation of Renewable Energy Technology. This education can be used as a tool to enhance the public’s understanding, and to achieve the development of a sustainable lifestyle among the public. Efforts directed at studying the public’s understanding and acceptance of RET have consisted majorly of survey studies that lack theoretical background, and as such, could not gain an in-depth understanding of the public’s acceptance of RET. There is a need for studies that will explore the life experiences of the public, taking into consideration the various variables that dictate the nature of this understanding of RET. This study was informed by the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) through which the beliefs, attitudes and perceptions about RET were examined as they related to sustainable behaviour. In this study, a mixed methods approach was used to explore the public’s understanding (inclusive of knowledge and beliefs, perceptions, and attitude) of Nigerians in relation to a sustainable lifestyle. This consisted of the concurrent use of focus groups and a survey study that allowed for both depth and breadth at the same time. The data were collected through four focus groups consisting of 23 participants, and a structured questionnaire, which was completed by 600 randomly selected participants. The data analysis was done using thematic analysis and through the use of the statistical package SPSS version 23. The outcome of this research shows that there is a general low level of knowledge about RET among the Nigerian populace, with males scoring higher than females. The statistical analysis carried out in this study shows a significance of 0.002, which is less than the level of significance of 0.005. This implies that there was no significant correlation between the level of education of the public and their knowledge of RET. The results also reveal that knowledge and beliefs about renewables, coupled with Perceived Usefulness and perceived ease of use, determines the populace’s attitude towards RET. A regression analysis between attitude and intention to use renewables yielded F=22.200 and p=0.000. This means that there was a significant relationship between the variables, showing that the research model is fit. Negative perceptions about the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and the cost of installing RET were major factors that prevented the participants’ willingness to install renewables. There is thus a need for Renewable Energy education that is comprehensive enough to enhance a positive perception among the populace about RET. Also, sustainability should be included in energy education programmes in order to develop a sustainable culture in the nation.