While utility-scale solar costs have declined nearly 30%, residential- and commercial-scale solar system prices have lagged behind at 6% and 15% reductions, respectively, according to a new report, “The U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2017PDF,” by NREL’s Ran Fu, David Feldman, Robert Margolis, Michael Woodhouse, and Kristen Ardani.
The report shows that the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) benchmarks without subsidies for the first quarter of 2017 fell to between 12.9 and 16.7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for residential systems, 9.2-12.0 cents a kWh for commercial systems, 5.0-6.6 cents a kWh for utility-scale fixed-tilt systems, and 4.4-6.1 cents a kWh for utility-scale one-axis tracking systems.
“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.
Approximately 13.7 gigawatts (GW) of new PV systems were installed in the U.S. last year, with the largest share coming from 10.2 GW in the utility-scale sector. Nearly 45 GW of solar is installed in the U.S., accounting for about 1% of the nation’s electricity supply.