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Published on May 6th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar PV Module Prices Have Fallen 80% Since 2008, Wind Turbines 29%

I know most of you have seen such graphs many times, but I can’t resist sharing another one every once in awhile. And the truth is, a lot of people are completely oblivious to this. Those who follow cleantech news know the strong trend, but the common person certainly doesn’t. Do everyone a favor — share this graph with your friends! :D

price of solar drop 2008 80 percent

Wind Power Prices Also Dropping

Wind turbine prices have followed a similar (if not quite as extreme) trend. Since 2008, wind turbine prices have fallen 29%. Wind power is more mature than solar. It is already the cheapest electricity option in many or even most places. You can see in the graph below that it had most of its massive price drops in the 1990s.

lcoe wind power

The full BNEF presentation those graphs come from was a presentation at the  Clean Energy Ministerial in Delhi, India on April 17, 2013.

Stay tuned, because I’ve got a post coming in about one hour that goes very well with these, but takes things even a step further.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

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  • Guest

    That’s an important piece of information Zach. The problem is that the industry seems to revel on mis-information and selling on euphoria. While the facts are clear obvious and the trends are clear the adoption remains laggard. We are trying to provide as much information as possible through our blogs like
    The more we can be openly informative to our clients and partners the faster the industry will grow out of its theething problems.
    Please keep up the good work.

  • addicted4444

    My one problem with the first graph is that it I logarithmic. This is great for people who understand logarithmic graphs (and so recognize that the straight downward line represents an exponential fall in prices). However, it isn’t useful to share with most people because most don’t understand this concept. If we could have a linear version of that graph, I think sharing would be more forceful because the steep drop in prices would be more evident to the layman.

    • Sean

      I like to delude myself that people can read and understand a scale, otherwise i end up saying “I don’t want to live on this planet any more”

    • Zachary Shahan

      just seeing this comment. unfortunately, the data points would be needed to create another version of it. wonder if M Liebreich would hand those over… or create new graphs for us…

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  • Anumakonda Jagadeesh

    But even then Solar PV is a far cry in many developing countries. It is not the fall of price but increase of Efficiency that matters. Solar PV Efficiency is around 15% while wind turbines 35%,micro/minihydel about 60%. Unless improved material and efficient solar Cells are available in the World, SOLAR PV cannot be competitive with other Renewables leave away conventional power.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

    • Ross

      I think you need to qualify that claim. LCOE is what matters most, in the majority of cases.

      • Dimitar Mirchev


        Who cares how efficient is your technology? At the end the only thing that matters is whether you can sell your product or not.

        • Sean

          it matters once you run out of land. (think inner city, or mobile devices)
          it matters because with reduced efficiency you require more square metres, and with it the frames, wiring, install costs.
          it matters if you have weight restrictions

          • RobS

            Yes so in specific cases where there is a specific benefit in maximising output from a given weight or area of panels then efficiency is an important metric. In terms of grid generation its not because with current standard efficiency rates the entire power needs of the US could be generated from an array 60 miles squared, in other words on a grid generation basis land area or rooftop area does not even come close to being the limiting factor.

    • James Wimberley

      To underline Ross’ point. Suppose somebody comes up with plastic PV panels that are only 1% efficient but cost 1c per watt. Won’t they sell like hot cakes? The resource – solar radiation – costs nothing and is abundant over most of the inhabited world, including India. So what matters is only the cost of the electricity.
      That said, efficiency gains are a good thing because – and only because – they lower costs, and make better use of scarce locational resources like rooftops and windy turbine sites.

      • patb2009

        $/W and $/WH is what matters

    • mds

      I am not as kind as Ross. That is complete balderdash! Efficiency is just a factor that can help reduce cost. Cost is best quantified as LCOE, just as Ross states.
      We drove around in 15% efficient autos for a century precisely because efficiency did not matter, oil was cheap.
      Amonix has reached 36% efficiency with their CPV panels and their product is not taking the market by storm, low cost PV is! Also, I believe average mSi PV efficiencies are now closer to 17%, not 15%. cSi PV efficiencies are now approaching 20% will some players well over this. Above 20% will become the norm for Si over the next 3 to 5 years.
      Solar PV is already half the cost of end-of-grid electricity in Hawaii, the Caribbean, (and other islands), and Australia. This is be definition disruptively competitive with other sources, including fossil fuels.
      In your own country of India, solar PV is competitive with diesel generators at $0.50/kWh in remote sunny areas. Just as in Hawaii, solar PV can generate the bulk of your electricity, during the day, at considerable savings of cost. There are several lower cost storage technologies coming to market in the near term. The wide variety of tech being used suggests one, or two, should deliver on promise. If this does occur solar PV will be the best and most competitive option in many areas of the world (developed and under-developed) for 24/7 electricity. This will include many areas in rural India. …and the cost of solar PV is still dropping!!
      AP means you’re a doctor of journalism, Dr. AJN? Please read up and educate yourself. There are a lot views that are simply coming from paradigms of the past, don’t be one of them. There is also a lot of oil and coal industry funded dis-information. Don’t anyone believe it. As Elon Musk claims, solar will be one of our largest sources of power within the next 20 years. It is becoming disruptively cost effective and already is in some areas …like your own back yard.

      • Bob_Wallace

        If you’re a journalist then why not find out everything you can about the Eos batteries which are going to be installed on the New York grid early next year? They are promising $0.03/kWh storage. We know that solar can be installed today for less than $0.10/kWh if it is done efficiently.

        $0.50/kWh for diesel electricity or less than $0.15/kWh solar/wind/storage.

        Can you imagine how much that would help India’s economy?

        Can you imagine how much it would improve people’s lives if they could purchase electricity for less than one third of what they now spend?

        I think you’ve got the possibility of a great story to tell your fellow citizens.

      • Otis11

        This. Also, I never understood this comparison – they’re apples and oranges. Let me illustrate:

        Which would you rather have, 15% of $2 billion USD or 60% of 3,000 rupees? The first comes out to be $300,000,000 while the second is $32.81 USD in today’s exchange rate. Sure, the percentage of the money you get is vastly different, and so is the outcome – but not in the direction you would think!

        The same holds true for solar, wind and FFs! We have 4-8 KWp hitting ever square meter of this earth every single day. While currently it only makes sense to convert 15% of that into electricity (even though we have the technology to reach ~40%) people disregard this because the 15% is “to inefficient”. FFs on the otherhand are extremely limited compared to solar, yet because we can get 60% out of this limited resource, people for some reason use that as a reason to choose it.

        Yes, currently there are some reasons to chose FFs over solar or wind, but those reason are quickly disappearing, and Mr. @facebook-1396520587:disqus

        @Bob_Wallace:disqus This might be a good argument to keep up your sleeve. This is brought up all too often and is so incredibly easy to debunk.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The value of a generation is not LCOE alone. Onshore wind often blows more at night when demand is lower. Solar produces during the sunny part of the day when demand is the highest. That makes solar more valuable than its LCOE would lead one to believe.

      A coal or nuclear plant rumbling along late at night is producing power that has almost no value.

      Solar is unique in that it can be installed at a very small scale. You should be very aware of the mirco-solar systems that number over a million in neighboring Bangladesh and are now starting to be installed in your country. Villages are getting small solar systems that let them save on diesel for the generators they were using. The cost of installing a 1.5 MW wind turbine would be out of their reach.

      Conventional power – coal, diesel and nuclear – are dead men walking. Renewables are already cheaper than any new conventional capacity. Renewable are already cheaper in many cases than is importing and shipping fossil fuels or purchasing nuclear fuel. Some of the already built and paid off conventional will continue to operate until those plants reach the end of their natural life. Others will fail for financial reasons as we are now seeing happen.

      If India was installing solar at Germany’s prices you would be generating electricity for $0.08/kWh or less. How much does diesel generated electricity cost?

      (India will get to or below Germany’s price soon. Lower labor and real estate prices. And the price of solar everywhere will continue to drop.)

    • addicted4444

      Dr. Jagadeesh, seeing that “conventional” energy has given India little more than Coal-gate, extremely expensive electricity (well above the prices promised by Tata/Reliance when the government stole land from landowners to give to them), insufficient electricity (since they can’t find the coal they need and want to tear down millenia old forests to do so), pollution, extremely high level of respiratory problems in people around them, poisoned rivers, and destroyed lives, I fail to see how conventional energy can even come close to being as cheap as renewables.

      When you factor in that India does not even have a grid worth talking about, conventional energy is worthless for India.

      Furthermore, the majority if the cost of renewables lies in labor (since component prices have been falling). Considering labor in India is far cheaper, renewables make even more sense.

      Fortunately some forward thinking leaders like Modi and Nitish Kumar are seeing right through the propaganda and are spending a lot of political cital promoting green energy in their states. And states like Gujarat are leaving the rest of India behind.

    • sola

      Uuuhhh, this really hurt.

      Efficiency is mostly interesting when there are space constraints.
      In all other cases LCOE is the most interesting thing.

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