A substantial drop in the installed cost of solar panels concludes 2012 on a high note, according to an annual cost-tracking report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The median installed price of PV systems completed in 2011 fell by 11-14% over 2010, while the first six months of 2012 saw an additional 3-7% reduction in California due to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, according to the study Tracking the Sun.
Small-scale PV systems under 10 kW cost about $6.10 per watt in 2011, while larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more were closer to $4.90, demonstrating a noteworthy economy of scale for PV installation.
Researchers also noted that non-module costs, such as labor, marketing, overhead, and other factors have also showed strong downward trends over time, dropping about 30% between 1998 and 2011. These costs are easily influenced by local, state, and national policies intended to increase PV deployment and decrease barriers, adds report co-author Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technology Division.
Among these policies are cash incentives or rebates intended to defray the technology’s cost. Depending on the system size, the incentives ranged from $0.90 to $1.20 per watt due to ongoing declines in their worth – cash incentives have dropped roughly 80% over the last decade and between 21-43% from 2010 to 2011.
Tracking the Sun is available online at emp.lbl.gov.