The economics of solar electricity

Erin Baker, Meredith Fowlie, Derek M Lemoine, Stanley S Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The benefits and costs of increasing solar electricity generation depend on the scale of the increase and on the time frame over which it occurs. Short-run analyses focus on the cost-effectiveness of incremental increases in solar capacity, holding the rest of the power system fixed. Solar's variability adds value if its power occurs at high-demand times and displaces relatively carbon-intensive generation. Medium-run analyses consider the implications of nonincremental changes in solar capacity. The cost of each installation may fall through experience effects, but the cost of grid integration increases when solar requires ancillary services and fails to displace investment in other types of generation. Long-run analyses consider the role of solar in reaching twenty-first-century carbon targets. Solar's contribution depends on the representation of grid integration costs, on the availability of other low-carbon technologies, and on the potential for technological advances. By surveying analyses for different time horizons, this article begins to connect and integrate a fairly disjointed literature on the economics of solar energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-426
Number of pages40
JournalAnnual Review of Resource Economics
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

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Electricity
Economics
Costs
Carbon
Grid
Cost-effectiveness
Technological advances
Incremental
Ancillary services
Time horizon
Solar energy
Costs and benefits
Short-run
Power system
Electricity generation

Keywords

  • Electricity
  • Emissions
  • Intermittency
  • Learning
  • Photovoltaic
  • Solar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

The economics of solar electricity. / Baker, Erin; Fowlie, Meredith; Lemoine, Derek M; Reynolds, Stanley S.

In: Annual Review of Resource Economics, Vol. 5, 06.2013, p. 387-426.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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