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A top-down analysis: Determining photovoltaics R&D investments from patent analysis and R&D headcount

: Breyer, C.; Birkner, C.; Meiss, J.; Goldschmidt, J.C.; Riede, M.


Energy policy 62 (2013), S.1570-1580
ISSN: 0301-4215
Fraunhofer ISE ()
Solarzellen - Entwicklung und Charakterisierung; Silicium-Photovoltaik; Technologiebewertung

For alternative energy technologies like photovoltaics (PV), the analysis of Research and Development (R&D) expenses is important to observe and understand market dynamics. This is, in turn, essential for policymakers. However, the quantitative evaluation of global corporate R&D investments is a challenging task due to unavailability or high scatter of precise data. Here we present a top-down approach to estimate the current and global historic cumulated PV R&D investments based on international PV patent applications. High growth rates of PV-related patents and R&D headcount accompany growth and development of the PV market and are an excellent indicator to analyze R&D investments. With this approach, current annual corporate PV R&D investments are found to be about 6000 m and show a rapidly increasing trend on a global scale.