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Bending the Learning Curve

35 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2015  

Jan Witajewski

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)

Elena Verdolini

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), CMCC - Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change

Massimo Tavoni

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM); Princeton University - Princeton Environmental Institute

Date Written: July 14, 2015

Abstract

This paper aims at improving the application of the learning curve, a popular tool used for forecasting future costs of renewable technologies in integrated assessment models (IAMs). First, we formally discuss under what assumptions the traditional (OLS) estimates of the learning curve can deliver meaningful predictions in IAMs. We argue that the most problematic of them is the absence of any effect of technology cost on its demand (reverse causality). Next, we show that this assumption can be relaxed by modifying the traditional econometric method used to estimate the learning curve. The new estimation approach presented in this paper is robust to the reverse causality problem but preserves the reduced form character of the learning curve. Finally, we provide new estimates of learning curves for wind turbines and PV technologies which are tailored for use in IAMs. Our results suggest that the learning rate should be revised downward for wind power, but possibly upward for solar PV.

Keywords: Learning Curve, Renewable Technologies, Integrated Assessment Models

JEL Classification: Q42, Q55, C55, C26

Suggested Citation

Witajewski, Jan and Verdolini, Elena and Tavoni, Massimo, Bending the Learning Curve (July 14, 2015). FEEM Working Paper No. 065.2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2630511 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2630511

Jan Witajewski (Contact Author)

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) ( email )

C.so Magenta 63
Milano, 20123
Italy

Elena Verdolini

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), CMCC - Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change ( email )

C.so Magenta 63
Milano, 20123
Italy

Massimo Tavoni

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) ( email )

Corso Magenta 63
20123 Milan
Italy

Princeton University - Princeton Environmental Institute

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States

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