The impact of policy on technology innovation and cost reduction: a case study on crystalline silicon solar PV modules

Topics: Mitigation
Type: Working papers
Publication date: 2014



Solar panel close up AuthorsAjay Gambhir (Grantham Institute)Rob Gross (Centre for Energy Policy and Technology), and Richard Green (Business School)
Published: November 2014

This working paper looks at the extent to which different policies have driven cost reductions in solar photovoltaics in recent years. 


The dramatic cost reduction in solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in recent years has confounded expectations. Solar electricity generation cost is now approaching grid-parity, with modules now costing less than $1/Wp. A key question is the extent to which different policies have driven cost reductions, particularly when considering the different phases of solar PV research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D).

Focusing on crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar modules, which have dominated the PV market for several decades, this study first reviews the quantitative (primarily statistical) evidence on drivers of PV module price reductions, before considering more qualitatively which policies dominated during periods of rapid innovation and cost reduction. 


  • Introduction
  • Solar PV module manufacture
  • Major innovations in PV module design and manufacture
  • Major policy initiatives in solar PV module development and deployments
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions