NREL: U.S. utility-scale solar falls below $1.50 per watt


A variety of factors including declining component costs, increased competition, lower overheads and better system configurations is driving solar PV systems costs ever lower, particularly for utility-scale projects, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL).

NREL’s U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark Q1 2016 shows costs for a typical 5.6 kW-DC residential PV system at $2.93 per watt, and $2.13 per watt for a 200 kW commercial system. For utility-scale PV, the authors gave a figure of $1.42 per watt for a 100 MW fixed-tilt system, and $1.49 per watt for a 100 MW system with single-axis tracking.

This represents 6% and 4% annual cost reductions for residential and C&I PV systems, but a stunning 20% reduction in costs for fixed-tilt utility-scale systems. NREL notes that while falling component costs are a factor, “increased competition, lower installer and developer overheads, improved labor productivity, and optimized system configurations also contributed, particularly for EPC firms building commercial and utility-scale projects”…

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