Solar among areas with biggest returns for economy, climate, researchers say

Utility-scale storage and solar should be a priority for governments with shrinking R&D budgets, shows a new paper published in the scientific journal Nature Energy.

A team of researchers, including Laura Anadon from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies, and her colleagues from the universities of Bocconi and Massachusetts Amherst, analyzed a range of studies and expert reports on public energy R&D investments in order to pinpoint the most cost-effective investments across energy technologies as either climate policy becomes more stringent, or R&D budgets tighten.

“What we found is that the impact of relatively low sums of public R&D funds for solar PV can make a significant difference in solar power costs and, in turn, on the costs of an energy system with lower CO2 emissions,” Anadon told pv magazine.

The research shows that the right tech investments can help economies by reducing energy costs, and even creating new industries, while at the same time reducing emissions damaging for the environment.

“Our method, described in the Nature Energy paper, allows us to determine not just what R&D investments would mean to solar power costs, but also to the energy system – total costs, electricity costs, etc.  What we found is that, particularly if absolute public R&D investments stay around a business as usual scenario or decrease, solar PV, in addition to electricity storage, have large returns to society on the margin,” she said.

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