Rooftop solar much cheaper in Australia than in US

Solar rooftop array on Westmont Industrial Complex, California. Image by PermaCity.

March 14 (Renewables Now) - Australia is the global leader in terms of installed rooftop solar capacity per capita, with 746 W DC per person, and this is not surprising given that the price per watt there for a 3-kW system is less than a dollar.

Rystad Energy today released a rooftop solar market analysis in which it compares the prices of such systems in Australia and the US. These are two markets with high levels of homeownership and a good solar resource but much different solar incentives.

The US has more than 10 times the population of Australia, but just two times the annual rooftop photovoltaic (PV) installations. In the US, the residential share of small-scale solar systems is 56%, while in Australia it is 87%. According to Rystad, the discrepancy stems from the higher cost of purchasing in the US.

The cost in Australia is USD 0.96 (EUR 0.876) per watt for a 3-kW system, and even lower if the capacity of the system is greater. In the US, the cost would be USD 4.6 per watt for 3 kW and still over USD 2 per watt for an 11-kW system.

“The higher price tag in the US is primarily driven by the significant soft costs associated with purchasing the system, including the sales tax, permitting, inspection, interconnection, and profit margins. All these soft costs in the US account for 64% of the total cost, or USD 3/WDC for the 3-kilowatt system,” Rystad says in its analysis.

In the US, residential solar systems are also less attractive from an economic point of view because the retail electricity prices are significantly lower. This, of course, depends on the state.

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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