November 6 (Renewables Now) - Distributed solar installation prices in the US remained on the slide in 2018, but the pace of price declines has decreased, according to the latest Tracking the Sun report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
The 2018 national median installed prices per watt for residential, non-residential and large non-residential solar systems were USD 3.7, USD 3.0 and USD 2.4, respectively. The year-on-year decrease in residential and non-residential systems was of about USD 0.2/W, while for large non-residential solar it was USD 0.1/W. Over the full Berkeley Lab analysis timeframe, price declines averaged USD 0.5/W per year across all three customer segments.
There are still significant differences in solar prices across different states. For residential systems, for example, prices ranged from a low of USD 2.80 in Wisconsin to a high of USD 4.40 in Rhode Island. State differences result from underlying market conditions, such as market size and competition, as well as differences in permitting and interconnection processes, taxes, and incentives, Berkeley Lab explained.
The Tracking the Sun report shows that with the drop in prices, US customers are investing in bigger and more efficient systems. Median system sizes in 2018 reached 6.4 kW for residential and roughly 50 kW for non-residential systems. The rising solar module efficiencies are in part responsible for the increase in output. The median efficiency in systems installed in 2018 was 18.4%, up by a full percentage point.
The distributed solar price calculations here are based only on host-owned photovoltaic (PV) arrays. Their market share has increased in recent years, while third-party (TPO) ownership is falling. TPO accounted for 38% of residential, 14% of small non-residential, and 34% of large non-residential systems installations in the 2018 sample.
(USD 1 = EUR 0.901)