Monitoring and assessing technology choice: the case of solar cells
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2000

The objective of this paper is to suggest a methodology that will help us to determine if the present rate and direction of technological change is compatible with the development of a sustainable society. We combine two perspectives on technology assessment. The first focuses on current techno-economic trends and the second on long-term resource and environmental constraints to the diffusion of a new technology. We apply our approach to the case of solar cells. Based on an analysis of technology, actor and market dynamics we suggest that thin-film solar cells are about to dominate the industry. Within the thin-film family, there is competition between alternative designs. The diffusion of three of these will, however, be limited by resource, and perhaps emission, constraints. One design (a-Si) fares much better in terms of these constraints but is less efficient. Three policy issues are identified. First, the diffusion of solar cells is not yet self-sustained and further policy intervention is required. Second, the problems of the current thin-film designs suggest that there is a need for policies both to sustain variety and to balance that requirement with the short-term requirement of cost reduction. Third, policy must ensure that a diffusion of solar cells containing scarce metals does not lead to an erosion of environmental constraints.

Solar cells


Technology choice


Björn Sandén

Chalmers, Institutionen för fysisk resursteori

Staffan Jacobsson

Chalmers, Institutionen för industriell dynamik

Energy Policy

Vol. 28 1037-1049


Produktionsteknik, arbetsvetenskap och ergonomi

Annan naturresursteknik