Median Installed Price of Solar in a United States Fell by 5-12% in 2015

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Solar appetite complement pricing is during an all-time low, according to a latest editions of dual repeated “state of a market” reports expelled currently by a Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

Within a marketplace for distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, commissioned prices in 2015 declined by $0.20-per-watt (W) or 5% year-over-year for residential systems, by $0.30/W (7%) for smaller non-residential systems, and by $0.30/W (9%) for incomparable non-residential systems. Prices for utility-scale PV systems that came online in 2015 fell by $0.30/W (12%) from a before year. Preliminary information for a initial 6 months of 2016 advise that prices have continued to tumble within many states and marketplace segments.

These and many other statistics can be found within dual new Berkeley Lab reports. Tracking a Sun IX focuses on commissioned pricing trends in a distributed PV market, including both residential and non-residential sectors. Utility-Scale Solar 2015 focuses on a utility-scale market, describing commissioned prices, as good as trends associated to a design, handling costs, ability factors, and energy squeeze agreement (PPA) prices of utility-scale solar projects.


“This noted a sixth uninterrupted year of poignant cost reductions for distributed PV systems in a U.S.,” records Galen Barbose of Berkeley Lab’s Electricity Markets and Policy Group, a lead author of Tracking a Sun. The continued decrease is generally notable given a comparatively fast cost of PV modules given 2012. The news attributes new complement cost declines, instead, to reductions in other hardware costs and to solar “soft” costs. The latter includes such things as selling and patron acquisition, complement design, designation labor, and needing and inspections.

Both reports also prominence a endless variability in PV complement pricing. For example, among residential systems commissioned in 2015, 20 percent sole for reduction than $3.30/W, while another 20 percent sole for some-more than $5.00/W. As Berkeley Lab’s Naïm Darghouth explains, “This variability reflects a horde of factors: differences in complement pattern and member selection, marketplace and regulatory conditions, and installer characteristics, to name a few.”

Utility-scale projects finished in 2015 also change widely in price, with a cheapest 20 percent labelled subsequent $1.60/W, compared to a many costly 20 percent labelled above $2.60/W. Berkeley Lab’s Joachim Seel notes, “Some of a celebrated cost differences between projects can be explained by varying loiter times between agreement traffic and plan completion, as some of these projects have been underneath development, or even construction, for several years.”

Project performance

Within a utility-scale sector, PV plan performance—as totalled in terms of “capacity factor”—has softened among some-more recently built projects, driven by advances in both record and plan design. In particular, an augmenting series of projects are deploying solar tracking record to boost performance. In addition, developers have been augmenting a distance of projects’ solar arrays relations to their inverters (resulting in aloft inverter loading ratios, or ILRs), as another approach to boost output. Finally, over a past few years, projects have, on average, been built during sites with stronger solar resources, as totalled by tellurian plane irradiance (GHI).

As shown in a figure below, changes in these 3 parameters have driven meant ability factors aloft by plan selected over a final 4 years, to scarcely 27% among 2014-vintage projects (whose initial full handling year was in 2015).


Power squeeze agreement (PPA) pricing

Lower commissioned plan costs and aloft ability factors have enabled levelized PPA prices from utility-scale PV projects to tumble dramatically over time, by $20-$30/MWh per year on normal from 2006 by 2013, with a smaller cost decrease of ~$10/MWh per year clear among PPAs sealed in 2014 and 2015. As shown in a figure below, many PPAs in a 2015 representation are labelled during or subsequent $50/MWh (levelized, in genuine 2015 dollars), with a few labelled as aggressively as ~$30/MWh. According to Berkeley Lab’s Mark Bolinger,Falling PPA prices have enabled a utility-scale marketplace to enhance over a normal strongholds of California and a Southwest into up-and-coming regions like Texas, a Southeast, and even a Midwest.”


Looking ahead, a improving economics of solar energy demonstrated in these dual reports, joined with a prolongation of a 30% sovereign investment taxation credit (ITC) by 2019, should expostulate a continued enlargement in all sectors of a U.S. solar marketplace over a subsequent few years.

Both reports, along with concomitant slip decks and information files, can be downloaded for giveaway from and

In addition, a endless underlying database of project-level information grown for Tracking a Sun is accessible to a open and can be downloaded by a National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Open PV Project.

Source: LBL