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Published on September 4th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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13 Charts On Solar Panel Cost & Growth Trends

September 4th, 2014 by  


The following charts on solar panel cost trends and solar power growth trends are fun, and good for a share, since many people are completely unaware of these trends.

Of course, to get a very specific cost of solar panels estimate for your own home, you can just spend about 60 seconds answering a few question at the link above and we can hook you up with this in a jiffy. (A completely free process, of course.)

But, if you’re just interested in some general information on solar panel cost and growth trends, look no further — we’ve got the goods right here:

13 Cost of Solar Panels & Cost of Solar Power Charts &Graphs

1. The average cost of solar cells has gone from $76.67/watt in 1977 to just $0.74/watt in 2013. [Update: PVinsights shows the average price of a solar module at $0.49/watt on July 15, 2016, and the average price of a solar cell at $0.26/watt.]

price of solar power drop graph Cost of Solar Panels 10 Charts Tell You Everything

Well, that basically tells you everything you need to know right there — the cost of solar panels in 2013 was about 100 times lower than the cost of solar panels in 1977 (even more than 100 times lower!) — but I promised 10 charts, so let’s dig in even further and throw on some other fun charts and graphs.

2. What is really important is that the cost of electricity from solar panels is now lower than the cost of retail electricity for most people.

disruptive solar Cost of Solar Panels 10 Charts Tell You Everything

That’s big! That means that people like you and me (if we have a roof) can cut our electricity costs by putting solar panels on our roofs! This is why major companies like Walmart, IKEA, Google, Apple, Facebook, Costco, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Staples, and many others are starting to go solar in a big way.

Of course, as you can see in that graph above, the cost of solar is headed towards the wholesale cost of electricity from natural gas… which would actually get utility companies and power plant developers switching to solar in a big way. (The cost of solar power actually varies quite a bit from place to place, and solar has crossed those lines in some locations.)

3. Here’s another look at the falling cost of solar panels (or, as the industry often calls them, solar modules), focusing on the years 1985–2011 (the price has continue to follow the trend through today):

solar pv cost trend Cost of Solar Panels 10 Charts Tell You Everything

4. Are you actually interested in the cost of installed solar power systems? And even perhaps the cost of installed solar power systems by sector? Here’s a chart on that, for the US [update: I’ve replaced a Q1 2014 chart with one from Q1 2016]:

solar power installed prices


 

5. Are you interested in seeing how the cost of solar panels compares to the cost of its main competitor? If so, have a look at this comparison between the cost of solar and the cost of electricity from gas- and diesel-fired peaking power plants [a newer chart from the same source replaced the original chart on July 15, 2016]:

Lazard Solar Wind LCOE 2

6–10. Are you interested in seeing how much solar panels save the average American who goes solar … or the average person in sunny states like California, Florida, New York, Texas, Hawaii, and so on? Below are two infographics on just that. Just note, however, that these averages are based on the cost of solar panels in 2011 (as I think you’ve gathered by now, the cost has dropped considerably since then).

solar power savings Cost of Solar Panels 10 Charts Tell You Everything

How Much Does Solar Power Cost Cost of Solar Panels 10 Charts Tell You Everything

10–12. So, with all of this information on the drop in the cost of solar panels and the cost of solar-generated electricity, you’re probably thinking that solar power project growth should be going through the roof by now, right? Indeed, it is [charts were updated on July 15, 2016, to be much more up to date]:

solar-growth

Annual installations, via International Energy Agency.

cumulative-solar-power-growth-globally

Cumulative solar power capacity, via Charlie Cook.

Solar price drop vs global solar power annual installations, via BNEF.

Solar price drop vs global solar power annual installations, via BNEF.

13. And perhaps my favorite solar power graph, this one is titled “Welcome to the terrordome!”

solar graph welcome to the terrordome


So, what’s the lesson today?

The lesson is: the cost of solar panels has fallen off a cliff, and that means that solar power now crushes electricity from the grid for a huge number of people. If you have a roof and don’t have solar panels on it, stop wasting your time and see what the cost of solar is and how much you can save right now!

Source: Cost Of Solar. Reproduced with permission (with updates/modifications).


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.



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