Global collaboration reduced solar panel production costs
The study, led by John Helveston of George Washington University, analyzed historical installed capacities, as well as sales price and input material data for manufacturing solar panel modules in the United States, Germany and China, the three nations with the largest solar energy deployment between 2006 and 2020, according to the journal Nature.
It estimated that together they saved a total of $67 billion through the supply chain: $36 billion for China, $24 billion for the United States and $7 billion for Germany.
In contrast, if each of them had adopted strong nationalistic trade policies limiting cross-border learning during the same period, solar panel prices in 2020 would have been significantly higher: 107 percent in the United States, 83 percent in Germany and 54 percent in China, the analysis pointed out.
The experts also warned that if such policies were implemented today, the costs of such equipment would be approximately 20 to 25 percent higher in each country by 2030, compared to a future with globalized supply chains.
These findings come at a time when many governments are introducing policies that nationalize renewable energy supply chains in an attempt to benefit local manufacturers.
“What this study tells us is that if we are serious about tackling climate change, policymakers must implement policies that promote collaboration between global value chains with respect to scaling up low-carbon energy technologies,” Helveston said.
He added that while this research focuses on one industry, solar, the effects described are applicable to other renewable energy industries, such as wind and electric vehicles, he said.