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The experience curve theory and its application in the field of electricity generation technologies – A literature review

Sascha Samadi

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2018, vol. 82, issue P3, 2346-2364

Abstract: The experience curve theory assumes that technology costs decline as experience of a technology is gained through production and use. This article reviews the literature on the experience curve theory and its empirical evidence in the field of electricity generation technologies. Differences in the characteristics of experience curves found in the literature are systematically presented and the limitations of the experience curve theory, as well as its use in energy models, are discussed. The article finds that for some electricity generation technologies, especially small-scale modular technologies, there has been a remarkably strong (negative) relationship between experience and cost for several decades. Conversely, for other technologies, especially large-scale and highly complex technologies, the experience curve does not appear to be a useful tool for explaining cost changes over time. The literature review suggests that when analysing past cost developments and projecting future cost developments, researchers should be aware that factors other than experience may have significant influence. It may be worthwhile trying to incorporate some of these additional factors into energy system models, although considerable uncertainties remain in quantifying the relevance of some of these factors.

Keywords: Experience curves; Learning curves; Learning rates; Electricity generation technologies; Literature review (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:82:y:2018:i:p3:p:2346-2364