Two reports published by the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) show that soft costs — such as financing and other non-hardware costs — now make up the largest section of solar installation costs, coming in at 64% of the total price for residential solar energy systems.
The two reports — “Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance-of-System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems, Using a Bottom-up Approach and Installer Survey – Second Edition” and “Financing, Overhead, and Profit: An In-depth Discussion of Costs Associated with Third-party Financing of Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems” — combine to show just how soft costs are becoming an increasingly more important part of solar installations.
“The two new reports, along with previous reports, provide a comprehensive look at the full cost of installing solar, while delineating and quantifying the various contributors to that final cost,” NREL analyst Barry Friedman said.
The first report showed that in the first half of 2012 soft costs represented the majority of all costs — 64% of the total price for a residential system, up from 50% as identified in a previous report conducted in 2012, and similarly high percentages for small and larger commercial installations.
The second report focused on the five sub-categories identified in the previous report only as ‘other soft costs’ — namely, transaction costs, indirect corporate costs, installer/developer profit, supply chain costs, and sales tax.