USA distributed solar PV costs dropped 12-19% in 2013

The price of distributed solar PV systems in the US dropped by between 12 and 19 per cent in 2013 – and will likely fall by up to 12 per cent more this year, a new report has found.

The US Department of Energy report – the third edition of a joint analysis on PV pricing trends, by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) – also predicts the downward trend to continue over the next couple of years, keeping the US on track to meet its SunShot Initiative 2020 targets.

America’s SunShot Initiative supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.

“These price drops are consistent with previous annual reductions achieved since 2010, when the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative was established,” NREL’s David Feldman, a lead author of the report said.

“However, the report also indicates that there are significant variations in reported pricing both geographically and across market segments due to a variety of factors, including value-based pricing based on local competition within the marketplace and prevailing electric retail rates.

“Other factors include differences in specific system configurations such as panel efficiency, mounting structure, and geographic location; and the time lags between commitments and commercial operation for utility-scale systems.”

The reportPhotovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections (2014 Edition), made several other key findings, including:

– Modeled utility-scale PV system prices fell below $2 a watt in 2013, and have continued to decline in 2014, to roughly $1.80 a watt, which is 59 percent below what modeled pricing showed in 2010; and

– There is a difference of roughly $2 a watt between the median reported price of the lowest- and highest-priced states for residential and commercial systems (less than 10 kW in size); a similar price range also exists within individual states.

Top image: Solar array on Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Headquarters in San Diego, California, via Wikipedia

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Giles Parkinson