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💭 Friday discussion: making it cheap

💭 Friday discussion: making it cheap
Written by Azeem Azhar

Hi team,

I had my Covid vaccination and I’m feeling marginally ropey today. Nothing too bad, just a mild fever and bad sleep. I may not be around for this thread much as a result.

We know that technologies start off expensive and, courtesy of learning effects, get cheaper with increasing volume. This effect, well described by Wright’s Law, is independent of economies of scale.

How solar progress progresses (Solar: Part 2) – ONE Only Natural Energy
Theodore Wright’s chart on cost improvements...

Given that many technologies needed for hitting sustainability goals, like carbon-free cement or plant-based protein substitutes for meat, or additive manufacturing, are expensive initially, what kind of policies can we use to kickstart the exponential price decline that learning gives us?

This, in a sense, is what Tesla did. It built expensive cars until it could build them cheaply. (The Model 3 and Y are far cheaper than the Model S & X.)

Bringing down that cost curve is critical - both to hit sustainability goals but also to ensure the benefits of technology are affordable. Or is that lens too simplistic?

What policies or approaches could be enacted to accelerate the decline in the cost of these core netzero products and services?

Cheers,

Azeem

P.S. Short responses with a single point work best — and it works well when you build on each other’s ideas.

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