PROJECT PROFILE: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SEEDS2-SES)

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Project Name: Modeling Photovoltaics Innovation and Deployment Dynamics
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 2 – State Energy Strategies (SEEDS2-SES)
SunShot Subprogram: Soft Costs
Location: Cambridge, MA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,275,000
Awardee Cost Share: N/A

This project evaluates the mechanisms driving photovoltaic (PV) system cost reductions, delving deeply into specific past technological innovations and policies, and prospectively assessing PV’s potential for future cost reduction. New datasets and advanced modeling frameworks are being developed, which provide a complete picture of how specific technology and policy developments led to the dramatic cost reduction in PV in recent decades. In addition, this project provides insights for policymakers, engineers, and other stakeholders that informs their research and development investments and policy designs in the future.

APPROACH

The project team builds on MIT’s work from the first round of SEEDS, where the team created a new research method to analyze cost reduction in technologies and used it to answer some of the questions about why crystalline silicon module costs have fallen. Researchers will improve and modify this proof-of-concept research method, apply it to PV systems, and address a wider set of questions than before.

INNOVATION

This project will estimate the low-level and high-level contributions to past cost reduction in PV systems, which has never been done before. The result will be new datasets that capture how PV systems’ costs declined historically and what the key determinants were, from advances in the laboratory to legislative innovations. This will help to drive further cost reductions.