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.
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.
Image Credit: ►Voj► via flickr under a Creative Commons license
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