Texas and Colorado are the states with the lowest installed solar costs, according to the latest version of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s annual Tracking the Sun, which tracks the annual costs of installed solar photovoltaics (PV). The report found that overall, the lowest cost of solar was in Texas, followed by Colorado. It also found that installed solar costs fell significantly in 2012 and have continued to do so in the first half of 2013.
“This marks the third year in a row of significant price reductions for PV systems in the U.S.,” explains Galen Barbose of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, one of the report’s co-authors. The report found that on a year over year basis the average installed prices for PV systems in 2012 fell—depending on system size—between 30 cents per watt to 90 cents per watt, or 6 percent to 14 percent.
The price drops in solar PV continued to be driven by lower PV module costs. “There simply are limits to how much further module prices can fall, and so it stands to reason that continued reductions in PV system prices will need to come primarily from the soft cost side,” says co-author Ryan Wiser, also of Berkeley Lab.
The report also found that preliminarily installed prices for the first half of 2013 have continued to fall, “with the median installed price of projects funded through the California Solar Initiative declining by an additional 5 cents per watt to 8 per watt (10-15 percent) depending on system size, relative to systems installed throughout all of 2012,” the report finds. As such, similar price drops may occur throughout 2013, it said.
The median cost for residential and small commercial systems (smaller than 10 kilowatts) fell to $5.30 per watt. The lowest installed cost for solar was in Texas at $3.90 per watt, followed by Colorado at $4.10 per watt. The highest cost was in Wisconsin at $5.90 per watt.
Texas Solar Outfitters owner Garrett Gordy revealed that he has sold 10-kilowatt systems for as low as $3.60 per watt. At that price (after taking into account the different tax incentives), the solar system would pay for itself in about 12 years, reports the Houston Chronicle.
The report also found the average cost for commercial systems between 10 kilowatts and 100 kilowatts was $4.90 per watt. Colorado had the lowest cost for such systems at $3.70 per watt, while Wisconsin had the highest at $5.90 per watt. In terms of systems larger than 100 kilowatts the average price was $4.90 per watt. Colorado led the pack in that range again, with costs averaging $3.20 per watt installed. Arizona was highest at $6.1 per installed watt. The price for PV for systems larger than 10,000 kilowatts ranged between $2.50 per watt and $4 per watt.