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Graph of the Day: How America is driving down big solar costs

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The US government has announced that the US solar industry is more than 60 per cent of the way to achieving cost-competitive utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity, an achievement it credits partly to support from the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative.

SunShot was set up in 2011 to re-establish US leadership in the solar marketplace by partnering with industry, universities, local communities and the Department’s National Laboratories to aggressively drive down the cost of generation.

To achieve this goal, says the DoE, SunShot aimed for a price of $0.06 per kilowatt hour (KWh) – a target that would make solar-generated power fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.

As you can see from the chart below, published on the Department of Energy’s website earlier this month, SunShot is making an impact, with he average price per kWh of a US utility-scale PV project dropping from about $0.21 to $0.11 since its inception.

*Click on the chart to view the interactive version of the chart, which breaks down this fall in costs of utility-scale PV over the past three years.

chart

Data courtesy of National Renewable Energy Lab. Chart by Daniel Wood. Click on chart to view original interactive version

The report notes that the Obama government is investing $25 million to strengthen US solar manufacturing for both PV and concentrating solar power technologies – investments it says will support innovative projects aiming to improve manufacturing processes in ways that save time and money.

Government investment to help drive down large-scale renewable energy costs? Who woulda thunk it!

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  • Eb Flow

    With behind the meter, rooftop PV being economic for daytime loads and plenty of roof areas, I sometimes wonder at the effort that goes into more expensive, ground mount PV that earns wholesale prices . .

  • solar gladiator

    Eb Flow–In the U.S., project economics are more attractive for larger projects due to the 30% Investment Tax Credit (or ITC): the larger the capital expenditures, the greater the credit. Also, a growing number of states have a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), or similar regulatory structure, that requires utilities to procure a certain amount of clean energy by a deadline to avoid penalties, hence the drive toward wholesale generation.