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Retrospective Benefit-Cost Evaluation of DOE Investment in Photovoltaic Energy Systems

This study is a retrospective analysis of net benefits accruing from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) investment in photovoltaic (PV) technology development. The study employed a technology cluster approach. That is, benefits measured for a subset of technologies in a meaningful cluster, or portfolio, of technologies were compared to the total investment in the cluster to provide a lower bound measure of return for the entire cluster.

The report finds that without DOE involvement, the average solar PV module production cost per watt would have been $5.27 in 2008 rather than $1.92; in addition DOE R&D has accelerated solar industry progress by an estimated 12 years on average.