NREL’s new report, Break-Even Cost for Residential PV in the U.S.: Key Drivers and Sensitivities, examines the break-even cost for residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) technology, the point where the cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid.
The authors, Paul Denholm, Robert M. Margolis, Sean Ong, and Billy Roberts, focus on the break-even cost for the largest 1000 U.S. utilities in the U.S. as of late 2008 and early 2009.
According to the report, the break-even cost of PV in the U.S. varies by more than a factor of 10 (from less than $1/Watt to over $10/Watt) despite a much smaller variation in solar resource. How the break-costs may change over time, examining a 2015 scenario and the key drivers behind break-even costs, are discussed.
Overall, the key drivers of the break-even cost of PV are non-technical, including the cost of electricity, the rate structure, and the availability of system financing, as opposed to technical parameters such as solar resource or orientation.