US utility-scale solar system costs drop 29% in 12 mo

Solar park in US equipped with Soltec's SF Utility trackers: Author: Soltec

Sep 13 (Renewables Now) - Utility-scale solar system costs in the US have dropped by 29% between the first quarters of 2017 and 2016, according to a report on Tuesday by the US Department of Energy's (DoE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  

"The rapid system capital cost decline of solar PV systems, driven by lower module prices and higher market competition this year, demonstrates the continuing economic competitiveness of solar PV in today’s energy investment portfolio," said Ran Fu, lead author of the report.

The falls for residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) systems, were smaller, of 6% and 15% respectively.

According to the report, total installed system costs have reached USD 1.03 (EUR 0.86) per watt direct current (DC) for fixed-tilt utility-scale systems and USD 1.11 per watt DC for one-axis tracking utility-scale systems. For residential systems, the prices are estimated at USD 2.80 per watt DC, and for commercial at USD 1.85 per watt DC.

Calculations for the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) without subsidies, or the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC), in the first quarter are in the table below. Costs are calculated for three different locations corresponding to higher, medium and lower resource areas in the US.

System type LCOE range USD/kWh
Utility-scale one-axis tracking 0.044-0.061
Utility-scale fixed-tilt 0.05-0.066
Commercial  0.092-0.12
Residential 0.129-0.167

The report shows that DoE's SunShot Initiative has now hit its 2020 cost target for utility-scale solar systems and is more than 85% towards reaching the 2020 cost objectives for residential and commercial systems. DoE announced the achievement of the SunShot goal in a separate press release. 

(USD 1 = EUR 0.835)

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Browse all articles from Plamena Tisheva

Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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