Solar energy prices drop but regulations still have a big impact
The future of solar energy is getting brighter. So says a trio of new studies that note substantial declines in the price of both rooftop and utility-scale solar energy in the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory made a series of sweeping observations in the studies, which includes a collaboration with Yale University, the University of Texas at Austin and DOE.
Utility-Scale Solar finds that solar electricity sold to utilities under contract fell more than 70 percent to $50 per MwH in 2013 and 2014 relative to 2008. The cost of developing utility-scale solar projects fell a third since the 2007-2008 period and the report notes the performance of the installations has increased.
Tracking the Sun reports the installed cost of rooftop solar systems on residential and commercial projects completed in 2013 fell by roughly 70 cents per watt or 12 to 15 percent of the prior year, marking the fourth consecutive year of price drops.
How Much Do Local Regulations Matter? found that variations in local procedures can drive up to $900 in costs on a typical residential installation. The report found variations include not only permitting procedures but interconnection planning and zoning, net metering and financing influence the final installation cost.