- Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems dropped up to 19 percent nationwide in 2013, according to a new report on pricing trends, and those declines are expected to continue this year.
- Depending on system configuration and geographic location, PV costs are expected to drop another 3-12 percent this year, with analysts predicting the trend will continue.
- But the report also indicated the price of solar is impacted by a variety of factors, including value-based pricing based on local competition and existing electric rates.
A new report out by the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds the United States is on track to meet the DOE SunShot Initiative's 2020 targets, which aim to drive down the cost of solar electricity to 6 cents/kWh.
But despite the price drops for solar, NREL's David Feldman, a lead author of the report, said evidence "also indicates that there are significant variations in reported pricing both geographically and across market segments due to a variety of factors."
Those can include value-based pricing based on local competition within the marketplace and prevailing electric retail rates, as well as differences in specific system configurations such as panel efficiency, mounting structure, and geographic location. Time lags between commitments and commercial operation for utility-scale systems can also play a factor, the report found.
The report shows that the general downward trend in PV system pricing continued in 2013, and is expected to continue through 2016. The report also found that modeled utility-scale PV system prices fell below $2 per watt in 2013, and have continued to decline in 2014, to roughly $1.80 per watt, or 59 percent below what modeled pricing showed in 2010.
"There is still considerable uncertainty as to how low PV system prices will drop in the next five to 10 years," Feldman said. "However, there appears to be an emerging consensus that the SunShot's price reduction targets are within reach and more and more likely to be realized."