GOLDEN — Utility-scale solar installations have reached the U.S. Department of Energy’s installed cost targets three years earlier than forecast. In other words, solar installations at the utility size are now producing electricity on a cost par with energy produced using other fuel sources. Commercial and residential installations are close behind.
The U.S. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, based in Golden, analyzed solar-energy costs in its cost benchmark study using data from 2010 through the first quarter of 2017. NREL reported that the installed cost of solar power fell to record lows in the first quarter of 2017 because of the decline in the cost of hardware and the increase in efficiency of solar units, despite increases in labor costs and profit margins.
The energy department’s goal was for solar to reach parity with energy produced by other fuels by 2020. Parity was set at 6 cents per kilowatt hour without subsidies or system installed costs of $1 per watt. In the first quarter of 2017, utility-scale installations reached $1.03 installed cost, including profit on hardware and installation.
Commercial installations of a 10 kilowatt to 2 megawatt size were at 89 percent of target or $1.85 per watt of direct current and residential installations up to 10 kilowatts were at 86 percent of target or $2.80 per watt of direct current.
“The rapid system capital cost decline of solar PV (photo voltaic) 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.
Because hardware cost…
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