Technical Change in Photovoltaics and the Applicability of the Learning Curve Model

Nemet, G.F. (2005). Technical Change in Photovoltaics and the Applicability of the Learning Curve Model. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-05-029


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The extent and timing of cost-reducing improvements in low-carbon energy systems are important sources of uncertainty in the future levels of greenhouse-gas emissions. Models that assess the costs of climate change mitigation policy rely heavily on learning curves to incorporate changes in technology. Historically, no energy technology has changed more dramatically than photovoltaics (PV), the cost of which has declined by a factor of nearly 100 since the 1950s. Which changes were more important in accounting for the cost reductions that have occurred over the past three decades? Are these results consistent with the widely held learning-by-doing theory of technological change? We gather empirical data and populate a simple model to identify the most important factors affecting the cost of PV. We find that the learning curve theory only weakly explains change in the most important factors- plant size, module efficiency, and the cost of silicon.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: Transitions to New Technologies (TNT)
Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:18
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:19

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