How well do experience curves predict technological progress? A method for making distributional forecasts

Forecast errors for simple experience curve models facilitate more reliable estimates for the costs of technology deployment.

Technological Forecasting and Social Change 128, 104 (2018)

F. Lafond, A. Bailey, J. Bakker, D. Rebois, R. Zadourian, P. McSharry, D. Farmer

How well do experience curves predict technological progress? A method for making distributional forecasts

Experience curves are widely used to predict the cost benefits of increasing the deployment of a technology. But how good are such forecasts? Can one predict their accuracy a priori? In this paper we answer these questions by developing a method to make distributional forecasts for experience curves. We test our method using a dataset with proxies for cost and experience for 51 products and technologies and show that it works reasonably well. The framework that we develop helps clarify why the experience curve method often gives similar results to simply assuming that costs decrease exponentially. To illustrate our method we make a distributional forecast for prices of solar photovoltaic modules.

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