Solar cost continues to decrease

The average cost of going solar in the US continued to decrease significantly in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, indicating that solar is an important and growing part of America’s new energy economy.

A report released by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, states that the average cost of going solar in the US continued to decrease significantly in 2011 and through the first half of 2012. This, according to solar advocates, means that these findings are the latest indicator that solar is an important and growing part of America’s new energy economy.
The latest edition of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s “Tracking the Sun,” an annual report on solar photovoltaic (PV) costs in the US, examined more than 150,000 PV systems installed between 1998 and 2011 and preliminary data from the first half of 2012. Key findings include:
•    The average installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 range from USD 6.1/W for smaller projects to USD 4.9/W for larger projects, an 11-14% decrease from the year before. Installed prices dropped an additional 3-7% in the first half of 2012.
•    Historically, installed PV prices have declined an average of 5-7% per year from nearly USD 12/W in 1998, with particularly sharp reductions occurring since 2009.
•    The recent price decline is, in large part, attributable to falling module prices, which dropped by USD 2.1/W from 2008 through 2011, and have fallen further still in 2012.
•    Non-module costs, such as installation labour, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 30% from 1998 to 2011, but have not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. Market-building policies that target non-module or “soft” costs represent a significant opportunity for continued price reduction.
“Tracking the Sun gives us more good solar news as we see efficiencies built into labour and permitting practices without sacrificing quality and safety,” said Jane Weissman, executive director, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC).”The solar industry has built in safeguards through standard-based performance and competency assessment programmes which together lead to consumer confidence and sustainable market growth.”