Credit to Author: Cynthia Shahan| Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2019 00:07:13 +0000
Published on November 17th, 2019 | by Cynthia Shahan
November 17th, 2019 by Cynthia Shahan
Tracking the Sun (PDF) is an annual report from Berkeley Lab on installed solar panel prices and other trends among grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. Primary authors of this year’s report were Galen Barbose and Naïm Darghouth.
The focal points are on systems installed through year-end 2018, with some emphasis also on preliminary trends for the first half of 2019. The scope of 1.6 million systems, representing 81% of all distributed PV systems installed in the United States through the end of 2018, accurately feeds the analysis based on project-level data.
The annual report, published this year in October of 2019, came to the following key findings:
Distributed PV Systems Keep Getting Bigger, More Efficient.
Installed Prices Continued to Fall through 2018 and into 2019.
Installed Prices Vary Widely Across Projects.
Prices sometimes reflect differences in system design, market, and installer characteristics.
The report shows technological improvement with declining costs. Along with the diminishing prices, as median module efficiencies experience a significant rise from 2002. The rise from 12.7% in 2002 to 18.4% in 2018 in module efficiencies indicates that engineers continue to succeed with improvements to technologies. (In a word, algorithms, and more algorithms.)
The report clearly emphasizes that substantial differences in pricing remains across states, even after controlling for other pricing drivers, which is an interesting finding.
One positive note for the future is that the wide variability in installed pricing may indicate the potential for further installed price declines in many places. The U.S. DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, involved from the start, aims to reduce the cost of PV-generated electricity by about 75% between 2010 and 2020, and by an additional 50% from the 2020 goal by 2030.
Solar-plus-storage systems were up considerably in 2018 compared to previous years in several states, reaching approximately 5% of the solar PV market in California most notably.
Third-party-owned solar remained far from their peak of a few years ago, but it still accounted for 38% of the residential solar PV market. The option is apparently also useful for nonprofit organizations or other tax-exempt hosts that can’t take advantage of solar tax credits — companies owning the solar can do so, though, and then pass the savings on.
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Cynthia Shahan Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)