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Lara Strupeit

Lars Strupeit

Project manager

Lara Strupeit

Experiments to identify new business models


  • Lars Strupeit

Summary, in English

This report compiles the findings of two business experiment surveys, conducted under CIRCUSOL Task 2.4. The experiments investigated customer preferences for two relatively novel market segments for circular photovoltaics, specifically (1) solar-powered charging stations for shared micro-mobility services, and (2) PV-systems for home-charging of electric vehicles. The experiments used the method of choice-based conjoint analysis, thereby simulating the user adoption situation in a simple format. The method is particularly suitable for identifying the trade-offs users need to make when adopting a novel technology. Survey respondents were recruited through a variety of channels, including advertisements in Google. The experiment surveys were conducted during the period May – September 2021in Germany, one of Europe’s most developed PV markets.

Based on a sample of 155 completed responses, the findings in Experiment 1 on solar-powered charging stations for shared micro-mobility services suggest that users would value sustainability aspects of the charging station (type of electricity, circularity aspects) in the same order of magnitude as convenience-related attributes (distance of charging station from final destination) and financial attributes (cost savings). In terms of preferences for sustainability aspects, the data suggests that using locally generated solar energy from distributed charging stations is clearly preferred, with charging station assembled with re-used components having a noticeable preference over those ones that comprise of new components. Additional segmentation analysis gave deeper insights into the heterogeneity of user preferences. Some subsets of the sample have a clearly higher preference towards the use of renewable energy and circularity, while for other subsets higher cost savings are important. Knowledge about these heterogeneous user preferences for different attributes of a value proposition can be of value for micro-e-mobility service firms as well as for the manufacturers of solar-powered charging stations, such as CIRCUSOL partner SunCrafter GmbH.

In Experiment 2, the data is based on 81 completed survey responses. It shows a clear preference of the majority of respondents towards purchasing and owning the solar EV charging system themselves. Service-based ownership and operating models are clearly disfavoured. Furthermore, users prefer a high solar self-sufficiency rate along with some cost savings. Regarding circularity aspects, the data suggests a marginal user preference towards re-used panels over new ones. Overall, respondents attribute a higher importance to the type of ownership and operating model and the solar-self-sufficiency rate than to the attribute of cost savings. Similar to Experiment 1, the segmentation analysis gave further insights on the variety of preferences among the user sample. A subset of respondents that have expressed a particular positive attitude towards adoption of reused-solar panels also appears to have an above-average preference for higher rates of cost savings (20%, 30%), for purchasing and owning the PV charging system themselves, and for high solar self-sufficiency rates (70 – 100%). This data would contradict earlier assumptions made in the CIRCUSOL project that service-based business models would catalyse the adoption of second-life PV components, due to their ability to offer users low-risk and convenience value. The results of these two experiments are envisioned to be fed back to the cocreation work of Task 2.3, and into business plan and replication plan work in WP5.

In sum, the findings show that user preferences for service-based circular value propositions vary widely, and business firms in the solar sector are recommended to take this heterogeneity into account when designing and innovating their business model. The experiments conducted under Task 2.4 are just one building block in the business model innovation process. The results are not be interpreted as ultimate answers, but can rather serve as input to subsequent iterations of the build-measure-learn cycle. To gain more refined insights into the customer preferences of the identified sub-segments, additional cycles of business experimentation are recommended. Finally, the experiments also provided some useful lessons on methodological aspects for online surveys, thereby building on some of the earlier work reported in the literature.


  • The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics

Publishing year




Document type



CIRCUSOL consortium


  • Business Administration