PublicationJournal Article An innovation-​​focused roadmap for a sustainable global photovoltaic industry

April 7, 2014
Publication Type:
Journal Article

The solar pho­to­voltaic (PV) indus­try has under­gone a dra­matic evo­lu­tion over the past decade, grow­ing at an aver­age rate of 48 per­cent per year to a global mar­ket size of 31 GW in 2012, and with the price of crystalline-​​silicon PV mod­ule as low as $0.72/W in Sep­tem­ber 2013. To exam­ine this evo­lu­tion we built a com­pre­hen­sive dataset from 2000 to 2012 for the PV indus­tries in the United States, China, Japan, and Ger­many, which we used to develop a model to explain the dynam­ics among inno­va­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing, and mar­ket. A two-​​factor learn­ing curve model is con­structed to make explicit the effect of inno­va­tion from economies of scale. The past explo­sive growth has resulted in an over­sup­ply prob­lem, which is under­min­ing the effec­tive­ness of “demand-​​pull” poli­cies that could oth­er­wise spur inno­va­tion. To strengthen the indus­try we find that a pol­icy shift is needed to bal­ance the excite­ment and focus on mar­ket forces with a larger com­mit­ment to research and devel­op­ment fund­ing. We use this work to form a set of rec­om­men­da­tions and a roadmap that will enable a next wave of inno­va­tion and thus sus­tain­able growth of the PV indus­try into a main­stay of the global energy economy.

Off-grid solar and cell-phone charging kit.

Off-​​grid solar and cell-​​phone charg­ing kit.

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