CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech news & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today!The future is now.

Clean Power

Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Giles Parkinson


Solar Modules 20% Lower Than Last Year

July 23rd, 2013 by  

This article originally published on RenewEconomy

Two of the key metrics that will be watched closely in the global solar industry reporting season that has just commenced are the price of panels sold, and the cost of manufacture. The difference is what the industry calls the margin.

For the past few years, the surplus of capacity meant that margins were mostly negative, but the rebalancing of the market, as some manufacturers go out of business, and the Chinese, Japanese and US markets drive strong growth, mean most manufacturers are in positive territory.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the solar industry is that once the market is re-balanced, then prices of solar modules will rebound, and the recent lows will never be seen again.

That assumes that the price fall was driven only by over-capacity, but what is clear from most manufacturers is that the cost of manufacture of solar modules will also continue to fall, and in some cases quite dramatically.

REC Solar, one of the leading European solar companies produced these two graph in its results last week.

The first is the price of solar modules, which shows a rebound. The second is the crucial one for the future of the industry, and its ability to undercut fossil fuels over the long term, because it shows that the cost of manufacture of a solar module will fall around 20 per cent over the year – despite the 60-80 per cent falls achieved over the previous three to four years. The same story is expected to be repeated among many other manufacturers.



As Tim Buckley, asset manager with ArkX noted: The economies of increasing scale and technology gains continue.

Complete our 2017 CleanTechnica Reader Survey — have your opinions, preferences, and deepest wishes heard.

Check out our 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is the founding editor of, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

  • Sailingsoul

    Absolute pure bullshit article and I’m sick of the bullshit. SOMEBODY, ANYBODY! post a link where I can BUY modules @ or below $1 a watt! This article says the price has been below $1 a watt since BEFORE 2012 and not it’s 2015 !!!! PURE BULLSHIT. I’m sick of this bullshit half ass reporting.

    Link please Mr. Giles Parkinson, or your writing isn’t good for toilet paper if it was printed.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Here’s a page that currently has about 20 purchasing options ranging from 78 cents to 99 cents per watt. (I say currently because it’s a live page and stuff changes from day to day.)

      Now, how about acting like a big boy and apologize to Giles. Then you can finish eating your helping of crow.

  • These articles that aren’t dated would be a lot more useful if they were.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Date in embedded in the browser address.

      Request is in to the tech gods to put the date on the page. Sacrifice a chicken.

      • Chicken? Ha! I’ll sacrifice a 15 goats and my Sony Walkman if they can get that fixed across the whole Internet.

      • Oh, and thanks for the article. Good pointers. I got the latest from SEIA at

        • Bob_Wallace

          Here’s some sites you might find useful.

          First, the avg price for a complete system in Germany. We (the US) seem to track Germany with a 2-3 year lag.

          ~$1.80/W. And their average is heavily weighted by small rooftop systems. Not a lot of utility scale in the German mix.

          US average system prices EOY 2013 –

          Average all Sizes $3.04/W. Residential $4.59/W. Commercial $3.57/W. Utility Scale $1.96/W

          The year on year average price drop was 15%, Residential was down 8.8%, Non-residential 16.3% and Utility 13.7%.

          Spot prices for silicon, wafers, cells and modules.

          Best prices for end-user purchasing. $0.75/W. I think I paid over $10/W for my first panel.

          • Thanks, Bob.

            I’m being quoted (what looks like) a pretty good price for a system, and I’m just trying to validate whether it’s a good deal or not.

            Installer has offered 40 Mitsubishi panels for 10,600W installed at $38,600 before gov’t incentives. But with wide ranging numbers on the net, such as this wholesale $0.75/W up to the SEIAs range which goes over $5/W installed…I’m not sure if I’m getting a fair deal or not!

            Any thoughts?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Costs vary a lot over states. I’ve seen some breakdowns but don’t recall the sites at the moment.

            $3.64/W ($38,600 / 10,600) seems decent, based on the GMT 2013 averages. National retail average EOY 2013 was $4.59.

            Lacking any knowledge about your local prices
            that seems like a decent deal to me.

            Best panel price of 75 cents isn’t the wholesale price. That’s retail.
            If your installer is active they are probably purchasing by the pallet but the Mitsubishi panels might not be the lowest price.

  • heinbloed
    • xclvet
    • Bob_Wallace

      You can accurately say that panel prices have increased recently but the second part of your claim is unfounded.

      The industry states that prices will soon start falling and will fall considerably below their previous low.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Heinbloded, those words, I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

  • Steeple

    Is there anyone doing quality testing on these panels aka Consumer Reports to track the differences between manufacturers?

    • Bob_Wallace

      There’s some sort of a certification process being set up. I haven’t kept track of how far along it is.

      Financing institutions are going to want some assurance that they are loaning money to projects which are being built with decent quality inputs.

    • xclvet
  • Shiggity

    Unfortunately for the EU, that recent up swing now turning downwards, was all of their manufacturers going out of business and the tariff spat.

    • xclvet


Back to Top ↑