Learning-by-Doing in Solar Photovoltaic Installations

67 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2013 Last revised: 5 Apr 2019

See all articles by Bryan Bollinger

Bryan Bollinger

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Kenneth Gillingham

Yale University

Date Written: February 19, 2019


The solar photovoltaic (PV) industry in the United States has been the recipient of billions of dollars of subsidies, motivated both by environmental externalities and spillovers across firms from learning-by-doing (LBD) in the installation of the technology. Using a dynamic model of demand and supply, this paper investigates installation cost reductions due to localized LBD using comprehensive data on all solar PV installations in California between 2002 to 2012, during a stage of initial growth of the PV market. We find that appropriable LBD can explain a decline in non-hardware costs of around 12 cents per watt, but we find evidence of only very small learning spillovers. This suggests that the California incentives are difficult to justify on shortrun economic efficiency grounds.

Keywords: learning-by-doing, innovation, imperfect competition, diffusion, new technology, energy policy

JEL Classification: Q42, Q48, L13, L25, O33, O25

Suggested Citation

Bollinger, Bryan and Gillingham, Kenneth, Learning-by-Doing in Solar Photovoltaic Installations (February 19, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2342406 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2342406

Bryan Bollinger

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

40 W 4th St
Tisch 804
New York, NY 10012
United States

Kenneth Gillingham (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

493 College St
New Haven, CT CT 06520
United States

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