Solar Power More Expensive in U.S.

08/08/2011 |


Solar power may be good for the environment, but installing a system can be hard on your wallet.  

The True Cost of Solar Power: The Pressure's On, the latest global solar supply-chain cost study by PHOTON Consulting found that While PV module manufacturers have made considerable progress driving down the cost of solar in the U.S., decreases in installer non-module costs have not kept pace.

According to the study, balance of system  (BOS) costs, or all of the system components except the PV modules, now represent roughly 56–60% of total installer costs for a U.S. residential  and small commercial building system, with the highest incurred costs coming from sales, marketing and customer support.

Moreover, on a comparative basis, U.S. residential installer costs outside of California and New Jersey are now on average 55–59% higher than residential installer costs in Germany on a $/Wp basis.

"Even for residential and small commercial installers in established markets like California and New Jersey, typical all-in project costs remain 39–44% above current levels in Germany," says PHOTON Consulting consultant and co-author, Chris Bolman. "We can and must do better, and achieving that goal will require coordinated thought-leadership spear-headed by policymakers, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NGO's like Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs), innovative technology and engineering solution-providers, and active market participants."

The study details the latest $/W and $/kWh benchmarks for U.S. installer costs, along with data and discussions of cost at other key steps of the solar supply chain, spanning polysilicon to PV electric power.

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