Up-scaling, formative phases, and learning in the historical diffusion of energy technologies
The 20th century has witnessed wholesale transformation in the energy system marked by the pervasive diffusion of both energy supply and end-use technologies. Just as whole industries have grown, so too have unit sizes or capacities. Analysed in combination, these unit level and industry level growth patterns reveal some consistencies across very different energy technologies. First, the up-scaling or increase in unit size of an energy technology comes after an often prolonged period of experimentation with many smaller-scale units. Second, the peak growth phase of an industry can lag these increases in unit size by up to 20 years. Third, the rate and timing of up-scaling at the unit level is subject to countervailing influences of scale economies and heterogeneous market demand. These observed patterns have important implications for experience curve analyses based on time series data covering the up-scaling phases of energy technologies, as these are likely to conflate industry level learning effects with unit level scale effects. The historical diffusion of energy technologies also suggests that low carbon technology policies pushing for significant jumps in unit size before a ‘formative phase’ of experimentation with smaller-scale units are risky.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hendry, Chris & Harborne, Paul & Brown, James, 2010. "So what do innovating companies really get from publicly funded demonstration projects and trials? innovation lessons from solar photovoltaics and wind," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 4507-4519, August.
- Weiss, Martin & Patel, Martin K. & Junginger, Martin & Blok, Kornelis, 2010. "Analyzing price and efficiency dynamics of large appliances with the experience curve approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 770-783, February.
- Kalkuhl, Matthias & Edenhofer, Ottmar & Lessmann, Kai, 2012.
"Learning or lock-in: Optimal technology policies to support mitigation,"
Resource and Energy Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-23.
- Matthias Kalkuhl & Ottmar Edenhofer & Kai Lessmann, 2011. "Learning or Lock-in: Optimal Technology Policies to Support Mitigation," CESifo Working Paper Series 3422, CESifo Group Munich.
- Yeh, Sonia & Rubin, Edward S., 2012. "A review of uncertainties in technology experience curves," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 762-771.
- Jacobsson, Staffan & Lauber, Volkmar, 2006. "The politics and policy of energy system transformation--explaining the German diffusion of renewable energy technology," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 256-276, February.
- Argote, L. & Epple, D., 1990. "Learning Curves In Manufacturing," GSIA Working Papers 89-90-02, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
- Sidney G. Winter, 2008. "Scaling heuristics shape technology! Should economic theory take notice?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(3), pages 513-531, June.
- Astrand, K. & Neij, L., 2006. "An assessment of governmental wind power programmes in Sweden--using a systems approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 277-296, February.
- Patrik Söderholm & Ger Klaassen, 2007. "Wind Power in Europe: A Simultaneous Innovation–Diffusion Model," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 36(2), pages 163-190, February.
- Garud, Raghu & Karnoe, Peter, 2003. "Bricolage versus breakthrough: distributed and embedded agency in technology entrepreneurship," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 277-300, February.
- Fouquet, Roger, 2010. "The slow search for solutions: Lessons from historical energy transitions by sector and service," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 6586-6596, November.
- Roger Fouquet, 2010. "The Slow Search for Solutions: Lessons from Historical Energy Transitions by Sector and Service," Working Papers 2010-05, BC3.
- Coulomb, L. & Neuhoff, K., 2006. "Learning curves and changing product attributes: the case of wind turbines," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0618, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
- Nelson, Richard R. & Winter, Sidney G., 1993. "In search of useful theory of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 108-108, April.
- Nelson, Richard R. & Winter, Sidney G., 1977. "In search of useful theory of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 36-76, January.
- Qiu, Yueming & Anadon, Laura D., 2012. "The price of wind power in China during its expansion: Technology adoption, learning-by-doing, economies of scale, and manufacturing localization," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 772-785.
- Lindman, Åsa & Söderholm, Patrik, 2012. "Wind power learning rates: A conceptual review and meta-analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 754-761.
- Sahal, Devendra, 1985. "Technological guideposts and innovation avenues," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 61-82, April.
- de Coninck, Heleen & Stephens, Jennie C. & Metz, Bert, 2009. "Global learning on carbon capture and storage: A call for strong international cooperation on CCS demonstration," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2161-2165, June.
- Paul Joskow & Nancy L. Rose, 1985. "The Effects of Technological Change, Experience, and Environmental Regulation on the Construction Cost of Coal-Burning Generating Units," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
- Ek, Kristina & Söderholm, Patrik, 2010. "Technology learning in the presence of public R&D: The case of European wind power," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 2356-2362, October.
- Murmann, Johann Peter & Frenken, Koen, 2006. "Toward a systematic framework for research on dominant designs, technological innovations, and industrial change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 925-952, September.
- P. Murmann & K. Frenken, 2002. "Toward a Systematic Framework for Research on Dominant Designs, Technological Innovations, and Industrial Change," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2002-12, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
- Nemet, Gregory F., 2009. "Interim monitoring of cost dynamics for publicly supported energy technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 825-835, March.
- Paul Windrum & Cecilia Diaz & Despoina Filiou, 2009. "Exploring the relationship between technical and service characteristics," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 567-588, August.
- Grubler, Arnulf, 2010. "The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 5174-5188, September.
- Sagar, Ambuj D. & van der Zwaan, Bob, 2006. "Technological innovation in the energy sector: R&D, deployment, and learning-by-doing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(17), pages 2601-2608, November.
- Saviotti, P. P. & Metcalfe, J. S., 1984. "A theoretical approach to the construction of technological output indicators," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 141-151, June.
- McNerney, James & Doyne Farmer, J. & Trancik, Jessika E., 2011. "Historical costs of coal-fired electricity and implications for the future," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 3042-3054, June.
- Dosi, Giovanni, 1993. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 102-103, April.
- Dosi, Giovanni, 1982. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 147-162, June.
- Nemet, Gregory F., 2006. "Beyond the learning curve: factors influencing cost reductions in photovoltaics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(17), pages 3218-3232, November.
- William D. Nordhaus, 2009. "The Perils of the Learning Model For Modeling Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 14638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- William D. Nordhaus, 2009. "The Perils of the Learning Model For Modeling Endogenous Technological Change," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1685, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Ferioli, F. & Schoots, K. & van der Zwaan, B.C.C., 2009. "Use and limitations of learning curves for energy technology policy: A component-learning hypothesis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2525-2535, July.
- Kenneth J. Arrow, 1962. "The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 155-173.
- Frenken, Koen & Leydesdorff, Loet, 2000. "Scaling trajectories in civil aircraft (1913-1997)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 331-348, March.
- Koen Frenken & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2004. "The early development of the steam engine: an evolutionary interpretation using complexity theory," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 419-450, April.
- Frenken, K. & Nuvolari, A., 2003. "The Early Development of the Steam Engine: An Evolutionary Interpretation using Complexity Theory," Working Papers 03.15, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
- Grubler, Arnulf & Nakicenovic, Nebojsa & Victor, David G., 1999. "Dynamics of energy technologies and global change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 247-280, May.
- Staffan Jacobsson & Anna Bergek, 2004. "Transforming the energy sector: the evolution of technological systems in renewable energy technology," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(5), pages 815-849, October.
- Clarke, Leon & Weyant, John & Edmonds, Jae, 2008. "On the sources of technological change: What do the models assume," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 409-424, March.
- Charlie Wilson & Arnulf Grubler, 2011. "Lessons from the history of technological change for clean energy scenarios and policies," Natural Resources Forum, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(3), pages 165-184, 08.
- Harborne, Paul & Hendry, Chris, 2009. "Pathways to commercial wind power in the US, Europe and Japan: The role of demonstration projects and field trials in the innovation process," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 3580-3595, September.
- Luiten, Esther E. M. & Blok, Kornelis, 2003. "Stimulating R&D of industrial energy-efficient technology; the effect of government intervention on the development of strip casting technology," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(13), pages 1339-1356, October.
- McCabe, Mark J, 1996. "Principals, Agents, and the Learning Curve: The Case of Steam-Electric Power Plant Design and Construction," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 357-375, December. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)