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Clean Power solar-now

Published on October 22nd, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan

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Solar Report Shows 30% Decrease in Cost of Solar Over 10 Years

October 22nd, 2009 by  

Just the other day, I wrote that it was a great time to go solar, especially due to the great rebates and discounts on solar technology. Apparently, I jumped the gun and was a few days early. A new report by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab — “Tracking the Sun II: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the US from 1998-2008” — shows a significant decrease in solar costs over the last ten years and shows that now is a great time to go solar.

As PV-tech.org reports, “the average cost of going solar in the US has declined by more than 30% between 1998 and 2008.” Lawrence Berkeley National Lab tracked changes between 1998 and 2008 and found different rates of dropping costs and different reasons for it throughout the years, but in the end the overall drop is quite significant. Also, after remaining essentially the same for a few years (2005-2007), the costs finally dropped again between 2007 and 2008, from an average of $7.8/W to $7.5/W.

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Adam Browning, executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative, says: “The bottom line is that affordable solar is no longer a vision for the future, it’s very much here now, ready to be a significant part of our nation’s energy mix.”

PV technology shows important economies of scale now as well. Systems completed in 2008 with ≤2kW average $9.2/W and 500-750 kW systems average $6.5/W — large systems cost about 30% less than the smallest systems.

US a Solar Leader

The US was the third largest PV market in 2009 (according to annual capacity additions), only behind Spain and Germany. This is at a time of dramatic increase in installed PV across the globe — 5,948 MW of PV were installed in 2008 compared to 2,826 MW in 2007.

The researchers examined 52,000 residential and non-residential systems across the US to create this report. In total, these systems accounted for 71% of all “grid-connected PV capacity installed in the US through 2008.” Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found quite a wide range in the costs across the United States. Average net installed costs ranged from $3.5/W in New York to $6.9/W in Vermont.

Government Supporting Solar, as Asked

A major reason for the increasingly lower costs and, therefore, for more and more installations is local, state and federal government incentives. The government is putting in the money the public is asking for. This is helping in great measures to get the costs down.

The time seems to be now. If you haven’t kept up with the changes yourself, you can see from this report that costs have dropped considerably in the last ten years and you can get great deals on solar now. Hopefully, this will encourage you or you and your neighbors to go out and get solar.

via pv-tech.org

Related Articles:

1) Survey Says!.. 92% of Americans Want Solar Power

2) Where are the Gaps in the Solar Marketplace?

3) Solar Energy Blowing Up, & in Surprising Places!

Image Credit: ►Voj► via flickr under a Creative Commons license 
 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media: ZacharyShahan.com, .



  • Craig Capurso

    We all know that government money comes from blue sky and dose not cost anything ??????????????

    • Bob_Wallace

      True, Craig.

      That’s why we spend between $142 billion and $250 billion taxpayer dollars paying the external cost of burning coal. Add in environmental damage and the number rises to about $500 billion a year. Each year. Every year. Year after year.

      Now –

      Imagine if we were to spend a few hundred billion helping wind and solar to become cheap enough that we could quit using coal.

      Say, less than what coal costs taxpayer in a single year in total.

      And that would mean that we would start saving hundreds of billions each and every year. Get our wind and solar subsidies back in a single year and then start saving all that money.

      National debt? Looks to be around $18.6 trillion. Four years of saving $250 billion a year pays down $1 trillion. Twenty years of saving $250 billion pays down $5 trillion.

      Wouldn’t you call that wise investing? I would.

      • Craig Capurso

        I guess two wrong make a right

        • Bob_Wallace

          No. But doing the same stupid thing over and over and over is a sign of insanity.

          Do you not comprehend how investing works? No business background?

          • Craig Capurso

            I think you are the one that is confused about investing. Investing is when you invest your money and you take the risk. Not when organized criminals IE the government takes my money and spends it on your special interest.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Craig, you have no idea how much US business is built on getting a helping hand up from the government.

            Use a computer? The internet? Railroads? Airplanes? GPS? Satellite TV? The electric grid? Modern medicine? It simply goes on and on and on.

            In the case of the government, we all put a little bit of money in promising technology and while not everything works a lot does and we are much richer because of it.

            That’s the way it’s been going since the beginning of our country. Back when real patriots wore the tricorn.

            From 1994 until the end of 2013 wind and solar received about $25 billion in subsidies. Total, not per year. That works out to about $0.08 per person. Eight friggin’ cents.

            You’ve got a burr in your saddle over 8 cents invested over a 19 year period?

            A half penny a year.

            Yep, you’re being robbed. Whoever is feeding your the stuff you’ve got stuck in your head is robbing you of the truth. Time to quit letting them treat you like a mushroom.

          • Craig Capurso

            I think your numbers are a little off but that dose not matter your argument dos not hold up. You are only worried about your pet special interest I am not against solar I bet i could come up with some things the government has done in the past that you are not to happy about you money going to. I try to be a little more reasonable I do not want big corporatist running my life by buying politician. I do not think one centralized plan for our country is the way to go I am not a communist I think real innovation comes from a real free market not a progressive centralized planning of every aspect of you life down to what you can or can not put into your mouth. One pet project the government and the corporatist shoved down our throats was nuclear power the central power at the time chose a flawed technology for political reasons and said it was clean and so cheep we would not need meters. We will be paying for that disaster for ever. The bottom line is I trust technology not politicians, if the government touches it they break it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” I bet i could come up with some things the government has done in the past that you are not to happy about you money going to.”

            You are 100% correct. Absolutely, totally correct. But when one lives in a democracy and is not “the Emperor” then not everything that
            the government (the people) decides to do is going to be exactly what you want.

            ” I do not want big corporatist running my life by buying politician.”
            Until the left and right get together and change the way we finance elections politicians will be forced to sell themselves for campaign donations. That is a problem we, the people, have allowed to happen and we, the people, have the ability to fix it.

            ” I do not think one centralized plan for our country ”

            Some things need to be done at the national level. I think we’d both agree that we need a national military and that the federal interstate highway system are things that are best by a central government. And I agree that local control is often better. But had we left it up to state/local governments slavery would have continued far longer and segregation would still be legal in some states.

            ” if the government touches it they break it.”

            I’d suggest you get out and travel. Go to some countries where their governments have never gotten their “stuff” together. You’ll come home with an appreciation for how good a government we have. Yes, somewhat flawed, but our Founding Fathers gave us the ability to fix that and any ongoing problems are on us.

            Nuclear was not shoved down our throats by the federal government. Every nuclear reactor (except for research/military reactors) build was a local decision.

          • Craig Capurso

            We will haft to agree to disagree we are not going anywhere with this.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s the deal, Craig. You can fact check my claims and see if they are true.

            If they are then you need to rethink your opinions.

            If you aren’t willing to seek facts and base your opinions on facts then you are going to be nothing but a tool for right-wing bullshitters.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “I think your numbers are a little off but that dose not matter your argument dos not hold up. ”

            I’ll give you the basis for my numbers. Along with what we’ve spent to subsidize other energy industries…

            Over the first 15 years of these energy sources’ subsidies, oil and gas received 5 times what renewables got (in 2010 dollars) and nuclear energy got 10 times as much. (Most of the renewable subsidies went to corn farms for ethanol, not wind, solar and other renewable electricity technologies.)

            Between 1918 and 2009 oil and gas received average annual subsidies of $4.86 billion. (92 x $4.86 billion = $447 billion)

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion. (53 x $3.50 billion = $185.6 billion)

            Between 1980 and 2009 biofuel received average annual subsidies of $1.08 billion. (29 x $1.08 billion = $31 billion)

            Between 1994 and 2009 wind and solar received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. (15 x $0.37 = $5.6 billion)

            http://www.dblinvestors.com/documents/What-Would-Jefferson-Do-Final-Version.pdf

            Since the 2009 cutoff above wind and solar have been receiving subsidies in larger amounts. This is because many subsides are now based on new production. (If any new nuclear had come on line it would also received PTC subsidies.)

            Out of curiosity I made a rough stab at calculating the amount wind and solar have received since 2009.

            Based on EIA production numbers from the beginning of 2010 through 2013 solar produced 16,625,000,000 kWh. During the same period wind produced 762,483,520,000 kWh.

            Ignoring the fact that some wind/solar farms chose the 30% ITC rather than the $0.025/kWh PTC and doing the math as if all wind and solar chose the PTC, wind and solar subsidies would have received subsidies (had their taxes lowered) by $19.5 billion.

            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received subsidies of $5.6 billion. Adding in the 2010 to 2013 (roughly calculated) subsidies the total comes to $25.1 billion.

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received subsidies equaling $185.6 billion.

            Wind and solar received 11% as much as nuclear when we carry the numbers to the end of 2013. Of course there are subsidies for nuclear which are not included in the $185.6 billion.

            Here’s another interesting statistic.

            In 2013 nuclear produced 19.4% of all US electricity. Wind and solar produced 4.33%.

            Nuclear has received 7.4x as much subsidy over time and yet is producing only 4.5x as much electricity. We are currently getting 1.6x more electricity per dollar subsidy with wind and solar.

            Another indication that we seem to have wasted our money on nuclear.

          • Craig Capurso

            None of that matters you are making my argument for me government is corrupt I think it all would be better off if government would stay out of it and I mean all of it not just your pet project. I ride bicycles I guess I should want a federal mandate that every mile of road hast to be retrofitted with a 12 foot protected lane just for me and my fellow cyclist. Like I said I am all for solar I just do not want to pay of yours. You can pay for your own deal. I am curious how many kilowatts do you have on your roof?

          • Craig Capurso

            I bet if we sat down over coffee we would agree on what should be done in this country the thing we would not agree on is how to implement it. I have bin a solar nut for ever I would have rather spent the countless billions on that instead of the wars we fight for oil but that is not going to happen we are going to keep feeding the beast for ever and nothing either one of dose matters. The government is not your friend.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In general we, the people, have to pool our money and do the jobs that private enterprise will not do. Private money would not have created the space program which brought us satellite communication, GPS, etc. Private money will not fund the sort of basic research on which our “practical” research is built.

            Private money will not give all our children a decent education.

            Private money will not furnish us all fire and police protection.

            Having 50 sets of aviation or pharmaceutical regulations would be a prescription for disaster.

            (I’d rather have problems prevented than having to deal with suing corporations for screwing up after they’ve killed me.)

            “I have bin a solar nut for ever I would have rather spent the countless billions on that instead of the wars we fight for oil but that is not going to happen”

            Keep reading this site. You’ll soon realize that we are almost certainly at the beginning of the end of oil. Within two years we should have 200 mile range EVs selling for about the price of the average new US car. We’re already using battery powered buses, delivery vehicles and garbage trucks. Five more years of progress and a serious move away from oil should begin.

            Happening.

            Oil has cost us trillions in wars and homeland security spending. Coal has cost us trillions in health and environmental damage. Renewable and EVs are almost certainly to take oil and coal out of our lives. Not overnight, but over a period of about 20 years. Hopefully sooner.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “The government is not your friend.”

            Looking back over the 7 decades of my life the government has certainly been my friend.

            Like all friends, it sometimes screws up and sometimes does things of which I don’t approve. But overall, I think it unlikely I would have made it to 71 without my friend the government having my back.

            (Case in point. Ten years ago I was hit head on by a drunk driver. There was zero way to avoid the crash. Had it not been for my government required seat belt I would have been killed. And I’m sure that the federal safety standards that my pickup had to meet helped as well.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            You asked about my solar. 1.2 kW of panels, ground mounted.

            Those went in when panels were ~$4/watt so I couldn’t afford to install a lot. At my previous house, which I built when PV was ~$8/watt I installed only 400 watts.

            I live a frugal ‘electricity life’. No more than two CFL/LEDs on at a time. Low draw laptops. Pump water and do laundry only sunny days.

            Now that prices are down below $1/watt (thank you subsidy programs) I’m planning on installing a couple more kW and reducing my generator use to about zero.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Government at all levels is corrupt from time to time. That’s simply a problem that will be with us as long as some people are more greedy than others.

            Again, you need to travel. You need to spend time in countries that have poor or no regulation over what’s in the pharmaceuticals you take and the food you eat. I’ve been in those sorts of countries. I’d much rather have less than perfect government solving some of our problems than a deeply flawed government solving none.

            A 12 foot protected lane for bikes? Obviously that is not reasonable.

            Safe routes for bicyclists? Makes sense to me. (I’ve been hit from the rear by a car when I was on the shoulder.)

            Solar subsidies. It’s not the government taking from the poor and giving to the rich. It’s the government using (a very small amount) of tax money to bring down the cost of solar to the point where richer people are willing to install some. And, the idea was, to use those more expensive installations to build a large enough market to bring down the cost of solar to the point where it benefits all.

            Was it guaranteed to work? No. There’s no guarantee that every good idea will work.

            Has it worked? Yes. I’ll give you a couple of graphics below to show you how well. The first one, the speed at which the price of solar has fallen. The second, the rate at which solar is falling in the US which makes solar more widely affordable.

            What do those falling prices mean for someone living in a rental w/o the ability to install solar or someone who is really struggling and can’t afford solar? It means that as solar generates more of our electricity the cost of electricity will drop. For everyone.

            Solar produces during some of our highest demand hours. Those hot, sunny days when AC is running full blast. To meet those needs we turn to some of our most expensive generation and the price can be very high.

            Some solar eats up that peak demand. The expensive gas peakers can be left sleeping.

            Look at what has happened in Germany on sunny days with only a modest amount of solar on their grids. The wholesale price of electricity when the Sun is shining has tanked. It’s as cheap as late night electricity. Third graph.

            Some people got some German tax money to help them afford solar. The price of electricity has dropped for everyone.

            (The savings are being eaten up by subsidy costs at the moment, but those costs will be paid off and prices will drop. They have already dropped for German industry, which does not get charged any of the subsidy cost.)

  • 1fortheroad

    Strange claim. The net cost of installing solar power on my house in Santa Monica 10 years ago is within pennies of the bid I received to do the same job in April of this year. Even with the 30% Fed Tax credit on net costs. The advertised rebate from the local power company (LA DWP) at 48% never nets out to that so the LA DWP rebate is much lower (typically 30%). This makes the long term capital investment in the product not smart. In my case, 17 years. That’s too long to invest in current technology. Better to wait if you are interested in retrofitting an existing home in Southern California.

  • 1fortheroad

    Strange claim. The net cost of installing solar power on my house in Santa Monica 10 years ago is within pennies of the bid I received to do the same job in April of this year. Even with the 30% Fed Tax credit on net costs. The advertised rebate from the local power company (LA DWP) at 48% never nets out to that so the LA DWP rebate is much lower (typically 30%). This makes the long term capital investment in the product not smart. In my case, 17 years. That’s too long to invest in current technology. Better to wait if you are interested in retrofitting an existing home in Southern California.

  • Dean

    Where does someone go who may have a great idea on how to increase the efficiency of PV cells? Need a manufacturer of cells to pitch my idea too but haven’t found any companies that will respond to my efforts to contact them.

  • Dean

    Where does someone go who may have a great idea on how to increase the efficiency of PV cells? Need a manufacturer of cells to pitch my idea too but haven’t found any companies that will respond to my efforts to contact them.

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