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Solar Prices Still Falling Fast, Study Finds

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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Solar prices continue to drop, according to the findings of a joint report by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) system prices decreased by 12 to 19 percent nationwide in 2013. Prices in 2014 are expected to drop by another 3 to 12 percent -- and this trend is expected to continue through 2016.

PV system prices of residential and commercial systems dropped by 6 to 7 percent per year from 1998 to 2013 -- and by 12 to 15 percent from 2012 to 2013. Market analysts expect system prices to continue to drop. The Department of Energy SunShot Initiative aims to reduce PV system prices by 75 percent from 2010 to 2020.

Other findings in the report include:


  • Prices for residential systems (5 kilowatts) dropped by 12 percent from the second quarter of 2012

  • Prices for commercial systems (200 KW) dropped by 3 percent from the second quarter of 2012

  • Utility scale prices dropped by 5 percent from the second quarter of 2012

  • From 2012 to 2013, prices for systems bigger than 10 KW dropped by 12 percent and by 15 percent for systems greater than 100 KW

  • The median reported prices dropped by roughly 5 to 12 percent during the first half of 2014 across the three size ranges

  • Global annual average module prices increased by 7 cents per watt from 2012 to 2013

A report by the Solar Energy Industries Association for the second quarter of 2014 found that the price for the national average PV installed system price dropped by 9 percent. The average price of a residential PV installation in the second quarter of 2014 dropped 41 percent from 2010. Since the second quarter of 2010, the average price of a solar panel dropped by 64 percent.

For the first half of the year, 53 percent of all new electric capacity installed has come from solar. Through the first half of the year, a new solar project has been installed every 3.2 minutes.

All three PV market segments grew significantly year over year. Over 6,500 megawatts of PV is predicted to come online in 2014, representative of a 36 percent growth over last year’s record installation levels.

There are over half a million solar installations now online in the U.S. The U.S. solar market topped the gigawatt mark for the third consecutive quarter to settle at 1,133 megawatts. That represents a 21 percent growth over the second quarter of last year and brings cumulative installed solar capacity to 15,900 MW, enough to power more than 3.2 million average American homes.

Image credit: Christine via Flickr

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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