Friday, November 30, 2012

More on Decreasing Cost of Solar

In a post on March 2, 2012, the rapidly decreasing cost of solar power was reported.

There is additional evidence that the cost of solar power is decreasing. We now have a report from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Tracking the Sun, an annual report of the cost of solar power.

According to the report, the average cost of a utility scale (2 MW or larger) solar system in 2011 was $3.4/watt. Systems larger than 10 MW had installed costs of between $2.8/W and $3.5/W.

"These data provide a reliable benchmark for systems installed in the recent past, but prices have continued to decline over time, and PV systems being sold today are being offered at lower prices," Galen Barbose of the Berkeley Lab told Solar Industry Magazine in a recent story about the report.

If the cost of solar power continues to drop, it will become competitive with the purchase of coal, with out a subsidy. That is, a utility will be able to, when the sun is shining, reduce its purchase and use of coal, replacing the output from coal plants with the output from solar plants. Fossil fuels would continue to be used for the time that the sun is not shining, but less would be used.