Posts Tagged ‘Cost per watt’
PV Advocate synopsis:
- Cost of installing a PV system continues its rapid YOY decline, 5% – 15% over the last year
- Utility scale solar has declined quicker than commercial rooftop and residential sectors
- For the first time ever, price decline came from reduction non-module hardware and lower soft costs as module prices held consistent throughout year
- Capacity factors have increased as a result of more tracker use, better system design and advances in module technology.
- Full access to the original LBNL 2016 report
The fate of the world depends on driving down the cost of solar power.
Yes, that’s a melodramatic way of putting it. But it’s not wrong. Any scenario that has humanity avoiding the worst ravages of climate change involves explosive global growth in solar power.
So how’s that going?
Happily, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) releases a set of reports each year devoted to tracking solar prices; they’ve just released the latest editions. Long story short: Prices are steadily falling, more or less on schedule
There are two reports, one for each type of solar power. One is on “utility-scale solar,” which means solar systems larger than 5 MW. The other report is on solar photovoltaic (PV) systems under 5 MW.
Those are two very different markets, but I’m going to squish them together in this post, with the help of a bazillion charts.
Solar is growing, growing, growing
Here’s a good scene-setter. It shows historic and projected solar power capacity additions, by technology. (We’ll get into the difference between CSP and varieties of PV below — ignore for now.)
A few things to notice about this chart. First, there’s about 29 GW of solar installed in the US now; LBNL expects that to clear 100 GW sometime around 2020. That’s crazy-fast growth (from almost nothing in 2007!), but it will still only put solar at around 3 percent of the US electricity mix in 2020.
Third, the giant spike in utility-scale PV happening this year is an artifact that reveals how much solar still depends on policy. Everyone thought the 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar was going to expire this year. Contracts signed in 2016 would have been the last to qualify. So there was a huge rush to get projects on the books.
As it happens, the ITC was unexpectedly extended late last year (it will phase out over the next five years), or else the spike would have been even bigger. As it is,more than twice as much utility-scale PV capacity will be added in 2016 than in any previous year.
Prices for utility-scale solar are falling
Prices are falling for both big and small solar, though at different rates and for different reasons. Read the rest of this entry »Share this: