New LBL Report Shows Historical Reductions in the Installed Costs of PV in the U.S.

Tracking the Sun: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. from 1998-2007, a new study on the installed costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the U.S. shows that the average cost of these systems declined significantly from 1998 to 2007, but remained relatively flat during the last two years of this period.

The report, by Ryan Wiser, Galen Barbose, and Carla Peterman, was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Solar Energy Technologies Program) and Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (Permitting, Siting and Analysis Division), and by the Clean Energy States Alliance.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who conducted the study say that the overall decline in the installed cost of solar PV systems is mostly the result of decreases in nonmodule costs, such as the cost of labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems. The report was written by Ryan Wiser, Galen Barbose, and Carla Peterman of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

The study examined 37,000 grid-connected PV systems installed between 1998 and 2007 in 12 states. It found that average installed costs, in terms of real 2007 dollars per installed watt, declined from $10.50 per watt in 1998 to $7.60 per watt in 2007, equivalent to an average annual reduction of 30 cents per watt or 3.5 percent per year in real dollars.

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