SAN FRANCISCO--()--The average cost of going solar in the U.S. decreased significantly in 2010 and through the first half of 2011, according to a report released today by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Solar advocates applaud the report as the latest indicator that solar is ready to power America’s new energy economy.
"The solar power industry is the fastest growing industry in America. We are delivering strong economic returns and good jobs at increasingly competitive prices, as this National Lab report shows. This report is further proof of what Americans from across the country already know: smart solar policy creates jobs and economic growth for communities hit hard by the recession," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
“Solar is ready to play a significant role in our nation’s energy economy. It’s reliable, it’s scalable, it’s safe, and now we’re seeing that it’s cost-competitive with conventional electricity resources in many parts of the country. The American solar industry has achieved these tremendous cost reductions and economic benefits while still supplying less than 1 percent of our national energy mix. Just imagine what the coming years could have in store if the U.S. solar market is allowed to continue its robust growth,” said Carrie Hitt, President of the Solar Alliance, a state-focused alliance of solar manufacturers, integrators and financiers.
“The impressive cost reductions highlighted in this report did not happen by accident. It took business innovation and market-building policies at all levels of government to achieve the necessary economies of scale. There has never been a better time for customers or utilities to harness the sun for power. It’s time to double down on our nation’s investment in this job-creating, homegrown energy resource,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of the Vote Solar Initiative, a grassroots organization working to make solar power a mainstream energy resource across the U.S.
The latest edition of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s “Tracking the Sun,” an annual report on solar photovoltaic (PV) costs in the U.S., examined more than 115,000 PV systems installed between 1998 and 2010 across 42 states. Key findings include:
- The cost of going solar fell significantly for consumers over the past 18 months. The average pre-incentive cost of residential and commercial solar PV systems decreased 17 percent in 2010, the most significant annual reductions since Lawrence Berkeley National Lab began tracking data. Costs declined another 11 percent in the first half of 2011.
- Market-building policies are effectively driving costs down. Reductions in the costs of installation labor, balance of systems, overhead and other non-module costs fell 18 percent from 2009 to 2010. This is significant because, unlike module costs, which are largely determined by the global market, non-module costs are most readily impacted by state and federal policies that accelerate deployment and remove market barriers.
- U.S. solar incentives are delivering an increasing return on investment. As a result of lower per watt costs, the average size of direct cash incentives from states and utilities as well as dollar-per-watt value of the federal tax incentive have both steadily decreased since their peak.
- Increased market scale would likely achieve additional near-term cost reductions. The average installed cost of small residential PV installations in 2010 was significantly lower in Germany ($4.2/W) than in the United States ($6.9/W), where cumulative grid-connected PV capacity in the two countries through 2010 totaled roughly 17,000 MW and 2,100 MW, respectively.
The full report and supporting materials are available for download on the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab website here: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/re-pubs.html
Tracking the Sun is one of many reports from industry groups and independent consultants indicating that solar is ready and able to meet a larger portion of America’s power needs and strengthen the U.S. economy. The quarterly U.S. Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and SEIA showed continued record-breaking growth in the first part of 2011. The report found that year-over-year, the amount of new solar PV installed grew 66 percent, domestic solar manufacturing grew 31 percent, and another 1.1 GW of utility-scale solar is currently under construction. The National Solar Jobs Census from the Solar Foundation found that the growing U.S. solar industry supported 93,500 jobs in 2010 with more than half of all solar employers planning to expand their workforce in 2011.
About Vote Solar: Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. Since 2002 Vote Solar has engaged in state, local and federal advocacy campaigns to remove regulatory barriers and implement the key policies needed to bring solar to scale. www.votesolar.org
About SEIA: Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is working to build a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA® works with its 1,000 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org
About the Solar Alliance: The Solar Alliance is a state-focused association of solar equipment manufacturers, integrators, integrators, and financiers specifically working with state administrators, legislators and utilities to establish cost-effective solar policies and programs. www.solaralliance.org