Swanson's law

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Price history of silicon PV cells since 1977

Swanson's Law is an observation that the price of solar photovoltaic modules tends to drop 20 percent for every doubling of cumulative shipped volume. This was misstated by The Economist, which said that photovoltaic cell costs drop 20 percent for every doubling of industry capacity. Effectively, costs halve about every 3 years. The Law is named after Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower Corporation a solar panel manufacturer. Swanson's Law has been compared to Moore's Law. Crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell prices have fallen from $76 per watt in 1977 to less than $0.40 per watt in 2014, lending support to the law.[1][2][3]

The term Swanson's Law appears to have originated with an article in The Economist published in late 2012.[1][2] It is a misnomer in that Swanson was not the first person to make this observation. The method used by Swanson is more commonly referred to as learning curve or experience curve analysis. It was first developed and applied to the aeronautics industry in the mid-1930s,[4] and saw its first widespread application to the photovoltaics industry in the mid-1990s.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Geoffrey Carr (2012-11-21). "Sunny Uplands: Alternative energy will no longer be alternative". The Economist. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 
  2. ^ a b Staff writer (2012-12-28). "Pricing Sunshine". The Economist. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 
  3. ^ R. M. Swanson (2006). "A vision for crystalline silicon photovoltaics". Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 14: 443–453. doi:10.1002/pip.709. 
  4. ^ T. P. Wright (1936). "Factors affecting the costs of airplanes". Journal of the Aeronautical Sciences 3: 122–128. 
  5. ^ G. J. Schaeffer, E. Alsema, A. Seebregts, L. Beurskens, H. de Moor, W. van Sark, M. Durstewitz, M. Perrin, P. Boulanger, H. Laukamp, C. Zuccaro (2004). "Learning from the Sun". Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands. Retrieved 2013-08-15.