The “Learning Curve” of Renewable Technology

by Patrick Quarberg

A 2007 study done by Patrik Soderholm and Thomas Sundqvist attempted to factor in “learning curve” expenses to renewable technology. They describe the “learning curve” expenses to be the increased cost of producing and installing a piece of equipment or technology while it is still a new product. As more of the product is implemented, implementation costs decrease. The study focuses on estimation methods for learning curve costs, and the importance of estimates in deploying technology like wind turbines and solar panels. Specifically, the study investigates issues regarding time as an important variable in learning rates, the interconnectedness of innovation and diffusion, and omission of other important variables in learning rate estimation. The reason for investigating time as an important factor, according to the researchers, is to find out whether costs are decreasing due to actual learning and innovation. The cost decreases should be explained by cumulative capacity—the implementation of additional units—not just time. This is indeed what was found in other studies, and was so included in Soderholm and Sundqvist’s estimation equations. Continue reading