03 July 2019

2004 YSSPer Gregory F. Nemet

Gregory F. Nemet is currently Professor of Public Affairs at the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He recently published "How Solar Energy Became Cheap: A Model for Low-Carbon Innovation." Below he shares the importance of this work and the impact of the YSSP.

Gregory F. Nemet © University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gregory F. Nemet © University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gregory Nemet first came to IIASA in 2004 to participate in the Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP). Today he is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's La Follette School of Public Affairs.

His research focuses on understanding the process of technological change and the ways in which public policy can affect it. He teaches courses in energy systems analysis, policy analysis, and international environmental policy.

Nemet's first book, How Solar Became Cheap: A Model for Low-Carbon Innovation, was published in June 2019. In the book, he makes the case that by understanding the drivers behind solar energy’s success, other low-carbon technologies with similar properties can benefit. 

What impact do you hope to make with this book?

"My most ambitious aspiration is that the insights from understanding how solar energy declined in cost can be used to inform public policy decisions about other technologies we will need to address climate change. The crucial role of international flows of knowledge in driving innovation are so clear in the case of solar. People moved around, equipment was mobile, and investment flowed across borders. Most important, ideas moved easily among scientists, engineers, policymakers and entrepreneurs. Efforts to restrict flows of knowledge slow down innovation, which is not a compromise we can afford given the urgency of dealing with climate change."

How did the YSSP impact your career? 

"My experience as a 2004 YSSPer was transformational. My notes from my meetings with Arnulf Grubler were gold - I have referred to them for years. Sitting in an office next to Brian Arthur and lunches with him still affect the importance I put on understanding how expectations affect technological change. My YSSP roommate from that summer is a very close friend who I still see regularly even though he lives on a different continent."

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Last edited: 27 June 2019


How Solar Energy Became Cheap: A Model for Low-Carbon Innovation


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