The modeled costs for new solar systems in the US declined in all three segments of the market in the first quarter of 2016, falling as low as USD 1.42 (EUR 1.27) per watt of direct current (Wdc) for fixed-tilt utility-scale projects.
New calculations by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) show that soft costs have reached a share of 58% of residential, 49% of commercial and 34% of utility-scale system costs. This is because the pace of cost reductions for PV modules and inverters has slowed in recent years and the proportion from labour, overhead, permitting and other such costs has gone up.
The modeled costs for residential photovoltaic (PV) systems have declined by 6% quarter-on-quarter to USD 2.93 per Wdc. For commercial systems the decline was more modest, of just 4%, to 2.13 per Wdc. Utility-scale system costs dropped by 20% to USD 1.42 and USD 1.49 per Wdc, for fixed-tilt and one-axis-tracking installations, respectively.
Solar costs keep falling thanks to lower module and inverter prices, significant competition, reduced installer and developer overheads, enhanced labor productivity, and optimised system configurations.
NREL has chosen a "bottom-up" modeling method to construct total capital costs by quantifying the typical cost of individual systems and project-development components, largely through dialogues and interviews with solar industry participants. Residential systems in the study are of 3 kW to 10 kW, commercial of 10 kW to 2 MW, and utility-scale are bigger than 2 MW.
(USD 1 = EUR 0.89)
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