What Has Happened to Solar Innovation?

Event Date: 

Sunday, November 15, 2015 -
9:30am to 11:00am

Event Location: 

  • UC Santa Barbara
  • Corwin Pavilion
  • Talk at a Conference

Conference Title: Democratizing Governance Conference

Session: 3.3 - NGO-Government Interactions: Government Perspectives

We often assume that industry wants innovation and that market forces support it. But neither is generally true of solar photovoltaic innovation, where utilities are foot-dragging on PV installation booms enabled by price drops that stem largely from non-market industrial policies in other countries. I’ll explore this issue through clips from the film that Zach Horton and I are completing, in which 2ndand 3rdgeneration PV scientists, executives, and investors in the U.S. and Germany confront the migration of the research and manufacturing of new solar technologies to better policy climes. How should US energy policy respond to their concerns? Will the public support “jobless” R&D funding? Should innovation policy favor commodification of existing technology wherever in the world it occurs? Should it support emerging technologies in this area of social need when it has stopped attracting investor interest? The struggles of various non-silicon PV communities offer interesting answers to these questions.