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Economic analysis of the photovoltaic industry : globalisation, price dynamics, and incentive policies

Abstract : In the last decade, the photovoltaic market was multiplied by 10, module price was reduced by 60%, and China increased its share in cell and module production from almost nothing to more than half. The purpose of this thesis is to shed light on the mechanisms driving these transformations. We analyse how China managed to acquire the photovoltaic technology, relying on interviews with actors of the Chinese photovoltaic industry, and data gathered on patents related to the photovoltaic technology. We show that intellectual property rights did not play a significant role, Chinese firms getting access to the technology by buying manufacturing equipment from industrialised countries, and from labour mobility. The cost decrease is analysed with experience curves models, allowing us to forecast a further cost decrease of two thirds by 2020, provided that the market follows the high predicted expansion. It gives some insight regarding when photovoltaic technology will become competitive. An important attention is dedicated to feed-in tariffs which largely participated in driving the demand so far. Their influence on the photovoltaic market, and their ability to adapt to module price volatility to avoid too attractive profits, is analysed using weekly data. A theoretical model analysing the influence of firms' strategies on the incentive effect of feed-in tariffs allows us to give further recommendations concerning an optimal feed-in tariff scheme.
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Arnaud Du Fayet de la Tour. Economic analysis of the photovoltaic industry : globalisation, price dynamics, and incentive policies. Economics and Finance. Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012ENMP0065⟩. ⟨pastel-00818317⟩

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