Solar Costs Drop 28 Percent Since 2009
September 22, 2011
The installed cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the U.S. fell substantially in 2010 and into the first half of 2011, according to the latest edition of an annual PV cost tracking report released by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
The average installed cost of commercial and residential PV systems completed in 2010 fell by roughly 17 percent from the year before, and by an additional 11 percent within the first six months of 2011.
The cost reductions are attributable, in part, to dramatic reductions in the price of PV modules. “Wholesale PV module prices have fallen precipitously since about 2008, and those upstream cost reductions have made their way through to consumers,” said Galen Barbose of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division and co-author of the report.
The report indicates that non-module costs—such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems—also fell for commercial and residential PV systems in 2010. Average non-module costs for commercial and residential systems declined by roughly 18 percent from 2009 to 2010.
“The drop in non-module costs is especially important as those are the costs that can be most readily influenced by solar policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers, as opposed to research and development programs that are also aimed at reducing module costs,” said Ryan Wiser, report co-author and Berkeley Lab scientist.
Turning to utility-sector PV, costs varied over a wide range for systems installed in 2010, with the cost of systems greater than 5,000 kilowatts (kW) ranging from $2.90 per Watt (W) to $6.20/W, reflecting differences in project size and system configuration, as well as the unique characteristics of certain individual projects. Consistent with continued cost reductions, current benchmarks for the installed cost of prototypical, large utility-scale PV projects generally range from $3.80/W to $4.40/W.
The market for solar PV systems in the United States has grown rapidly over the past decade, as national, state and local governments offered various incentives to expand the solar market and accelerate cost reductions.
GRD Views: As the cost of energy continues to climb and the cost of solar continues to drop, we see accelerated adoption of solar power by retailers for the stores and DC’s moving forward. -- John Failla for Green Retail Decisions
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