Solar PV prices will fall below $US1.00 per watt by 2020

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The Department of Energy’s ambitious SunShot target of $1.00 per watt by the end of this decade could well be achieved.

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Greentech Media

rsz_one-dollar-620x448_410_282_c1According to GTM Research’s latest report, U.S. Solar PV Price Brief H1 2016: Pricing, Breakdowns and Forecasts, pricing for fixed-tilt ground-mount PV systems will hit $0.99 per watt by 2020. This would achieve the Department of Energy’s ambitious SunShot target of $1.00 per watt by the end of this decade.

The report provides a detailed breakdown and forecast of solar costs by component and segment.

FIGURE: Utility Fixed-Tilt PV Systems Pricing by Cost Category

utility-scale-solar-costs
Source: U.S. Solar PV Price Brief H1 2016: Pricing, Breakdowns and Forecasts

GTM Research estimates the price for a utility-scale fixed-tilt ground-mount PV system to hover around $1.25 per watt today. Modules represent half of the cost, additional hardware such as inverters and balance-of-system components represent 22 percent, and the remaining 28 percent is made up of soft costs.

The report notes that soft costs present the both biggest opportunity, but also the largest hurdle for future cost reductions, particularly in the residential and commercial market segments where prices are much higher than in the utility-scale segments.

Residential PV prices in the U.S. average $3.00 as of the first half of this year. According to the report, soft costs make up 64 percent of residential system costs today, and despite system prices falling by a third by 2020, soft costs will still account for 60 percent of the total system price.

Average U.S. commercial solar prices just dipped below $2 per watt, but the report highlights additional opportunities for further cost reductions.

“Commercial PV installers need to find more ways to shorten the length and de-risk aspects of the project cycle in order to substantially reduce origination and overhead costs,” said Ben Gallagher, GTM Research solar analyst and lead author of the report.

He notes that solar-specific software tools and simplified business modes will also help lower solar costs. GTM Research forecasts U.S. commercial solar pricing to fall 25 percent between 2015 and 2020.

FIGURE: U.S. PV Systems Pricing

Source: U.S. Solar PV Price Brief H1 2016: Pricing, Breakdowns and Forecasts
Source: U.S. Solar PV Price Brief H1 2016: Pricing, Breakdowns and Forecasts

Source: Greentech Media. Reproduced with permission.

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2 Comments
  1. wmh 4 years ago

    Locally, there is a growing second hand market in solar panels as people remove old panels to renew roofs and then find that they can almost double their output power if they refit with modern panels.
    The best panels these days are rated at 345W compared to perhaps 180W for 6 year old panels which are no longer on the CEC list and hence no longer qualify for STC’s. I bought some of these recently for $60 a panel with probably another 20 years of life before they get down to 80% (144W).

  2. Doug Hendren MD 3 years ago

    Is the cost of capital considered part of the “soft cost”? It appears that capital costs are going up for the fossil industry as banks start no longer granting cheap loans backed by in-the-ground reserves which may not be burnable. Renewables, in comparison, are looking more attractive to bankers every day.

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