Report: Utility-scale solar prices drop below $1/watt for first time

Dive Brief:

  • Solar capacity additions are continuing to amass while the installed price-per-watt falls, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report. According to the report, utility-scale solar systems were priced at an average of $.99 to $1.08/watt, a first in the industry.
  • According to the report, solar was the second largest source of new generating capacity additions brought on-line in the first quarter of this year, totaling 30%.
  • It was the sixth consecutive quarter in which more than 2 GW was installed—including more than 1 GW of utility-scale capacity.

Dive Insight:

The future for solar energy remains strong, according to solar advocates, as costs decline and the resources make more economic sense.

“The solar market clearly remains on a strong upward trajectory,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. She said the resource is "adding jobs 17 times faster than the U.S. economy and creating tens of billions of dollars in investment. With its cost-competitiveness, we know solar will continue to play a growing role in America’s energy portfolio.”

Source: Solar Market Insight Report 2017 Q2

Solar energy made up 30% of new capacity additions to come online in the first quarternatural gas accounted for 41%, and wind was 27%.

In 2016, solar was the largest source of new capacity additions, largely due to a wave of installations amid uncertainty whether the federal investment tax credit would be extended. But rooftop solar will not witness the same explosive growth as seen in previous years. 

According to the SEIA report, this year "distributed solar is on track for a slowdown in growth across both residential and non-residential PV." On the residential side, large national solar companies are slowing down signups to "pursue profitable sales channels at the expense of growth."

The report also noted that "segment-wide customer acquisition challenges" are holding back growth, and California is expected to see a decline in added solar capacity this year, ending a decade of continuous growth.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables
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