Young Sierrans – Dallas Sierra Club

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Berkeley Lab Report – Tracking the Sun: The Installed Cost of PV in the US

Posted by youngsierrans on October 22, 2009

Berk Lab SolarEven though TX may have missed an opportunity to position itself as a national leader in solar technologies this past legislative session, there’s plenty of good work being performed around the country to prove out the competitiveness of this alternative energy source.  The newly released Berkeley Lab Report, Tracking the Sun II: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. from 1998-2008, provides a comprehensive summary of installed cost trends for grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States.

The report is based on data from more than 52,000 residential and non-residential PV systems, totaling 566 MW of capacity and representing 71% of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the U.S. through 2008.  They found that average installed costs have declined over time, from $10.8/W in 1998 to $7.5/W in 2008 (31% reduction), including a 4.6% reduction between 2007 and 2008.  Trends continue to decline into 2009.

A PowerPoint presentation that summarizes key findings can be downloaded here.  Or, the full report.

Report findings include:

  • Costs are generally lower in states with larger PV deployment programs (though exceptions exist)
  • International experience suggests that greater near-term cost reductions are possible, with Germany and Japan exhibiting significantly lower average installed costs for residential PV systems than the U.S.
  • Evidence of sizable economies of scale among the PV systems in our sample, significant variation in average installed cost among states, and cost advantages for PV installed in residential new construction relative to the retrofit market
  • Trends in financial incentive levels over time, by customer type and among states, and the associated impact of these trends on the net installed cost of PV for residential and commercial PV system owners after receipt of incentives
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