Solar energy prices see double-digit declines in 2013, trend expected to continue

October 21, 2014, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) system prices dropped by 12 - 19 percent nationwide in 2013, according to the third edition of a jointly written report on PV pricing trends from the Energy Department's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). In addition, 2014 prices are expected to drop another 3 - 12 percent, depending on system location and market segment. Industry analysts expect this trend to continue over the next couple of years, keeping the nation on track to meet the DOE SunShot Initiative's 2020 targets.

"These price drops are consistent with previous annual reductions achieved since 2010, when the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative was established," NREL's David Feldman, a lead author of the report said. "However, the report also indicates that there are significant variations in reported pricing both geographically and across market segments due to a variety of factors, including value-based pricing based on local competition within the marketplace and prevailing electric retail rates. Other factors include differences in specific system configurations such as panel efficiency, mounting structure, and geographic location; and the time lags between commitments and commercial operation for utility-scale systems."

The report, Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections (2014 Edition)PDF, provides a high-level overview of historical, recent, and projected near-term PV system pricing trends in the United States and examines progress in PV price reductions to help the Energy Department and other stakeholders manage the transition to a market-driven PV industry. The report shows that the general downward trend in PV system pricing continued in 2013, and is expected to continue through 2016. Other key findings include:

Modeled utility-scale PV system prices fell below $2 a watt in 2013, and have continued to decline in 2014, to roughly $1.80 a watt, which is 59 percent below what modeled pricing showed in 2010.

There is a difference of roughly $2 a watt between the median reported price of the lowest- and highest-priced states for residential and commercial systems (less than 10 kW in size); a similar price range also exists within individual states.

There is a wide-range in analysts' PV pricing estimates, however a number of analysts are now projecting long-term pricing in line with the targets set by the SunShot Initiative for 2020. At these levels, PV is expected to reach widespread grid parity in the U.S. without federal or state subsidies.

"There is still considerable uncertainty as to how low PV system prices will drop in the next five to 10 years," Feldman said. "However, there appears to be an emerging consensus that the SunShot's price reduction targets are within reach and more and more likely to be realized. We see this reflected in the fact that many of the current projections are far lower than projections made in the recent past by the same sources."

Explore further: NREL teams to analyze solar pricing trends and benchmark 'soft' costs for PV systems

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3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2014
Time to use my engineering training to design a framework to mount a system on the roof of my RV, a converted greyhound bus. Should have enough space for a 3kw PV system to charge the below deck...luggage area....battery banks backed up by a 13Kw diesel generator all feeding a 12Kw inverter/charger, 48v. Since the inverter can also 'sell' power, the solar output fed thru its solar controller and the inverter will well be able to clip off the 'tier 5', the 'tier4', and maybe even the 'tier2' power use and give me reallly cheap electric bills. Who knows, with a little conservation, Southern California Electric will be paying US for power.. Now to create a nice water desalinator aboard and be able to park by the sea and get all the fresh water we want, conservation or not. Seawater if free and the Israelis are pioneers in reverse osmosis desalinization. Then to buy a lot in Northern Cal by the sea and live utility free.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2014
The Oil Barons and the Koch Brothers are losing ground day by day. Look at the price of oil now. They got too greedy, and alternatives were developed. Now, they will be better and cheaper than the oil from the greedy.

And we won't need multiple naval carrier groups to defend the oil lanes any more, either.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2014
Having run two 20-Amp circuits to my pergola outside, I kept putting off running conduit and waterproof fittings to light it. Instead, I stapled up cheap wire for lamp cords, used LED lights, open-knife switches for aesthetics, and ran it all on an ATV battery charged by a small panel on top.

No shock hazard. No watertight fittings. No code. No power bill. No sweat.

Household energy use dropped in the US last year. This is why it will continue.
5 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2014
PV is expected to reach widespread grid parity in the U.S. without federal or state subsidies

That is remarkeable. Especially given that nuclear and fossil fuels haven't ever managed to reach grid parity without subsidies in all the time they have been around.
not rated yet Oct 22, 2014
The Oil Barons and the Koch Brothers are losing ground day by day. Look at the price of oil now. They got too greedy, and alternatives were developed. Now, they will be better and cheaper than the oil from the greedy.

And we won't need multiple naval carrier groups to defend the oil lanes any more, either.

The oil price has nothing to do with it. The drop is happening because of the Russia - USA economic war and the fact that the main economies of the world: China and EU are slowing down / contracting again. Anyway from what i read some oil producers are thinking of lowering their supply as way of increasing the price and their revenues.

Regarding the industry giants, you are too optimistic. They have so much cash reserves that they don't care and they will just adapt, and fossils are not only used as fuel and energy but also for heating, and as a industrial main input.
not rated yet Oct 22, 2014
There are countries whose entire infrastructure rely on the use of natural gas for each household and the cost of switching from gas to electric at a national level is very high, not to mention the psychological barriers as some people will consider natural gas more easy to use than electricity for heating and cooking.

Also regarding how we will move forward big energy companies will move also: they have syngas and ft diesel development and refinement process which also relies on green energy input, and not to mention hydrogen ( for a future car industry) from what i know atm is cheaper if we use natural gas than water atm.

And we have a problem with lobbyists. There is a current at least in Eu, that the state should overtax citizens who use renewables as a way to protect the grid (to protect the big companies, the distributers mainly, whose only efficiency rely on the big pool of costumers, due to their high fix costs).

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