Installed price of solar photovoltaic systems in the US continues to decline

Installed prices for PV systems in 2012 fell by a range of roughly $0.30 per Watt (W) to $0.90/W, or 6 to 14 percent, from the prior year, depending on the size of the system. “This marks the third year in a row of significant price reductions for PV systems in the U.S.,” explains Galen Barbose of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, one of the report’s co-authors. Within the first six months of 2013, PV system prices in California fell by an additional 10 to 15 percent, and the report suggests that PV system price reductions in 2013 are on pace to match or exceed those seen in recent years.

The report indicates that the median installed price of PV systems completed in 2012 was $5.30/W for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size and was $4.60/W for commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size. Utility-scale systems installed in 2012 registered even lower prices, with prices for systems larger than 10,000 kW generally ranging from $2.50/W to $4.00/W. The report also highlights the wide variability in PV system pricing, detailing the installed price differences that exist across states and across various types of PV applications and system configurations.

The market for solar PV systems in the United States has grown rapidly over the past decade. This sixth edition in Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun report series describes historical trends in the installed price of PV in the United States. The report is based on data from more than 200,000 residential, commercial, and utility-scale PV systems installed between 1998 and 2012 across 29 states, representing roughly 72 percent of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the United States. The study is intended to provide policy makers and industry observers with a reliable and detailed set of historical benchmarks for tracking and understanding past trends in the installed price of PV.

According to the report, recent installed price reductions for PV systems are primarily attributable to steep reductions in the price of PV modules. From 2008 to 2012, annual average module prices on the global market fell by $2.60/W, representing about 80 percent of the total decline in PV system prices over that period.

Non-module costs