January 19, 2016

Researchers Pinpoint the Drivers for Low-Priced PV Systems in the United States

(January 19, 2016)  The price of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on homes and small businesses spans a wide range, and researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have published a new study that reveals the key market and system drivers for low-priced PV systems.

Berkeley Lab’s Ryan Wiser, a co-author of the study, explains, “Despite impressive recent cost reductions, installed prices for small-scale PV systems in the United States continue to show wide pricing differences depending on the location of the installation, the installer, the components of the system, and other factors. Our work seeks to pinpoint the characteristics of recently-installed PV systems at the lower end of the observed solar price range.”

According to Greg Nemet of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author of the report, “We find that low-priced PV systems, those cheaper than 90 percent of other systems nationally, are more prevalent in local markets with fewer active installers, and are more likely to be installed by companies that have more county-level experience installing PV systems. Not surprisingly, low-priced PV systems are also associated with a variety of system characteristics. For example, such systems are more likely to be customer owned (vs. leased), be larger in size, and use lower-efficiency modules; and are less likely to use tracking, building-integrated PV modules, micro-inverters, and batteries.”

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