With the cost of solar continuing to fall rapidly (50% in the past five years) and electricity prices rising steadily, if slowly, the approach of solar grid parity is near. The following chart illustrates the trajectory of solar cost and electricity price, hinting at the coming intersection. 1 The chart compares the cost of a… Continue reading
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Minneapolis, MN —Within a decade, more than 35 million buildings may be generating their own solar electricity (without subsidies) at prices lower than their utility offers, sufficient to power almost 10% of the country.
That’s the powerful headline from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s latest report, Commercial Rooftop Revolution. Despite the opportunity, utilities, regulators, and policy markers are largely unprepared for the surge of local solar power.
Read the report, view the interactive map, and more
Although only 0.1% of electricity is generated by solar power in 2012; within a decade, 300,000 MW of unsubsidized solar power will be at parity with retail electricity prices in most of the United States and more than 35 million buildings may be generating their own solar electricity sufficient to power almost 10% of the country. Continue reading
A new government investigation of Solarcity on the eve of its initial public offering (IPO) may explain how solar leasing is fleecing federal taxpayers and making U.S. residential solar more expensive than in other countries. The Treasury Department inspector general is probing solar leasing company SolarCity (and others) for its use of “fair market value”… Continue reading
Earlier this week, Lawrence Berkeley Labs released a marvelous comparison of residential PV costs in Germany and the United States, finally putting some detail to an enormous gulf in costs (nearly $3.00 per Watt). The following chart (from page 35 of the presentation) shows the cost difference broken down into 9 categories, with ILSR’s addition… Continue reading
Update 12/21/12: Corrected chart. Overhead and Sales Tax had been switched in the German data column. I often get flak when I publish research on the cost trajectory for solar (e.g. my Rooftop Revolution report estimates 100 million Americans reaching grid parity by 2021). About half think I’m too conservative, and half think I’m too… Continue reading
Your mind-blowing chart of the day, courtesy of Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Source for U.S. use; source for German use; used U.S. average household size of 2.6. Continue reading
In a forthcoming report on U.S. feed-in tariff programs, I’ll provide a comparison of solar feed-in tariff (FIT, a.k.a. CLEAN Contract) rates across the United States. Comparing published rates is not particularly helpful, however, because contract lengths vary (from 15 to 25 years) and the solar resource also varies widely. For international comparisons (e.g. Germany), it’s… Continue reading
Back for a second round, the Open Neighborhoods organization in Los Angeles has organized another group purchase of residential and commercial solar PV, bringing the cost of solar incredibly close to the cost of grid power. With grid prices constantly rising, the lifetime savings of going solar have never looked better.
The savings from the group purchase are enormous. With prices are around $4.40 per Watt installed for solar, Open Neighborhoods gets residential solar for $2.00 cheaper than the average prices reported by the Solar Energy Industries Association for the second quarter of 2011. That equates to a 6 cents per kilowatt-hour savings on solar over 25 years. Even with solar typically being cheaper in California, the group advertises savings of as much as 33% on a residential solar array.
The low group purchase price means that those who go solar will have cheaper electricity from their rooftop panels than average grid electricity by 2015. If the solar user is on a time-of-use pricing plan, they’ll already have cheaper electricity from solar than from their utility.
The following chart illustrates the comparison between the cost of power from a rooftop solar array purchased as part of this group buy versus grid electricity at a flat rate.
The results are promising and show that economies of scale can be achieved even with residential solar, if folks work together.