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Effects of learning curve models on onshore wind and solar PV cost developments in the USA

Omar Castrejon-Campos, Lu Aye and Felix Kin Peng Hui

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2022, vol. 160, issue C

Abstract: Technological innovation planning for developing and deploying clean energy technologies plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon future. Learning curve theory has been adopted as a common framework for exploring the relationship between endogenous technological learning and technology cost developments. The aim of this article is to analyse the effects of selecting different learning curve approaches (i.e. model formulations) to describe energy technology cost changes over time. Experience and knowledge stock are chosen as the sources of learning to be considered. A new definition of experience was developed to account for the interaction between global and local experience. The new definition of experience also accounts for learning sub-processes (i.e. learning-by-doing, learning-by-using, and experience spillovers) to estimate total experience gained through technology deployment. An integrative model is developed for estimating the effects of learning-by-deploying and learning-by-researching on cost developments for onshore wind and solar PV in the USA. Publicly available data from government departments and organisations were utilised. It was found that technology cost developments are better explained when: (1) experience is defined as a function of global and local experience; (2) knowledge stock is also considered in the model formulation; and (3) technological processes affect only a fraction of the total capital cost. The findings suggested that the application of learning rates for model-based energy planning is context-dependent and how technological factors are explicitly defined may have significantly different policy implications (i.e. different technology costs predictions based on alternative model formulations).

Keywords: Technological learning; Learning curve; Onshore wind; Solar PV; Energy RD&D; Technological experience; Knowledge stock (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2022.112278

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