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Learning Curve Analysis of Wind Power and Photovoltaics Technology in US: Cost Reduction and the Importance of Research, Development and Demonstration

Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
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Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2310; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082310
Received: 11 March 2019 / Revised: 12 April 2019 / Accepted: 15 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract

The strategic transition from fossil energy to renewable energy is an irreversible global trend, but the pace of renewable energy deployment and the path of cost reduction are uncertain. In this paper, a two-factor learning-curve model of wind power and photovoltaics (PV) was established based on the latest empirical data from the United States, and the paths of cost reduction and corresponding social impacts were explored through scenario analysis. The results demonstrate that both of the technologies are undergoing a period of rapid development, with the learning-by-searching ratio (LSR) being greatly improved in comparison with the previous literature. Research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) have contributed to investment cost reduction in the past decade, and the cost difference between high and low RD&D spending scenarios is predicted to be 5.5%, 8.9%, and 11.27% for wind power, utility-scale PV, and residential PV, respectively, in 2030. Although higher RD&D requires more capital, it can effectively promote cost reduction, reduce the total social cost of deploying renewable energy, and reduce the abatement carbon price that is needed to promote deployment. RD&D and the institutional support behind it are of great importance in allowing renewables to penetrate the commercial market and contribute to long-term social welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: learning curve; wind power technology; photovoltaics technology; Research; development and demonstration (RD&D) learning curve; wind power technology; photovoltaics technology; Research; development and demonstration (RD&D)
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Zhou, Y.; Gu, A. Learning Curve Analysis of Wind Power and Photovoltaics Technology in US: Cost Reduction and the Importance of Research, Development and Demonstration. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2310.

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