Grafström, J. & Poudineh, R. (2021). A review of problems associated with learning curves for solar and wind power technologies. Ratio Working Paper No. 347. Stockholm: Ratio.
The learning curve concept, which relates historically observed reductions in the cost of a technology to the number of units produced or the capacity cumulatively installed, has been widely adopted to analyse the technological progress of renewable resources, such as solar PV and wind power, and to predict their future penetration. Learning curves were originally an empirical tool to evaluate learning-by-doing in manufacturing, and the jump to analysis of country-level technological change in renewable energy is an extension that requires careful consideration. This paper provides a review of the problems associated with learning curves for solar and wind power technologies. Issues such as whether the past cost reductions affect the future, learning curve specification problems, changing price ratios and econometric issues are discussed. Learning curves have a place in research, but there are several pitfalls that researchers should be careful not to overlook.