Technological Learning in the Energy Sector
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Technological Learning in the Energy Sector

Lessons for Policy, Industry and Science

Edited by Martin Junginger, Wilfried van Sark and André Faaij

Technological learning is a key driver behind the improvement of energy technologies and subsequent reduction of production costs. Understanding how and why production costs for energy technologies decline, and whether they will continue to do so in the future, is of crucial importance for policy makers, industrial stakeholders and scientists alike. This timely and informative book therefore provides a comprehensive review of technological development and cost reductions for renewable energy, clean fossil fuel and energy-efficient demand-side technologies.
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Chapter 19: Overview and Comparison of Experience Curves for Energy Technologies

Martin Junginger, Martin Weiss, Wilfried van Sark and André Faaij


Martin Junginger, Martin Weiss, Wilfried van Sark and André Faaij As was shown in the technology chapters in this book, numerous experience curves for various energy supply and demand technologies have been devised in the past years. In this chapter, we now compare the experience curves found for both energy supply and energy demand technologies, and discuss similarities and differences between the technologies investigated and their development trajectories. 19.1 COMPARISON OF POWER PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGIES We start our comparison with Figure 19.1, showing the historical development of investment prices of three renewable and two fossil fuel power production technologies, all plotted against the global cumulative installed capacity. It is clear that all energy technologies follow experience curves, and display strong reduction of prices, in many cases over several decades. The most impressive reduction is achieved by PV modules, which display an impressive cost decline from several hundreds of euros/Wp in the 1960s to the present cost of around 4–5 €/Wp. On the other hand, PV still has the longest way to go before it reaches investment costs in a similar range to those of fossil fuel technologies. Onshore wind also displays a clear reduction of investment costs up until 2004 (but here, the time series only start in 1990). Another observation is that the incumbent fossil technologies continue to learn and to reduce costs (despite the fact that they have reached maturity) – a fact often forgotten in scenario analysis. Natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plants first display a ‘negative’ experience...

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