The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) — a leading research center propelled by the motto “Bringing science solutions to the world” — released its eighth Tracking the Sun report today. EnergySage’s solar marketplace data was included for the first time in this report, and is part of the Lab’s ongoing efforts to include new sources of relevant industry information.
As seen below, EnergySage’s data was relied on by the Lab to represent market prices for the United States: the inclusion below depicts the 20th to 80th percentile range among price quotes issued in the EnergySage marketplace in 2014. Installer-specific data from the likes of SolarCity, Vivint, and Sol Systems are less useful to the National Laboratory because they reflect the installer’s own costs (as provided in annual reports), but not actual prices quoted to consumers.
The eighth edition of the report broadly focuses on new trends in the installed price of grid connected solar energy systems. This year’s report covers residential and small-scale commercial (or “non-residential”) solar PV systems, whereas previous reports included information on utility-scale installations. Going forward, a companion report titled Utility-Scale Solar will also be published.
Lowering Cost and Generating Price Advantage for the Residential Solar Homeowner
Key findings from the LBNL report are listed below:
- Recent installed price reductions have been driven by declines in soft costs.
- Installed price declines have been partially offset by falling incentives.
- National median installed prices may differ from other recent benchmarks.
- Installed prices vary widely across individual projects.
- Economies of scale occur among both residential and non-residential systems.
- Installed prices differ among states, with relatively high prices in some large state markets.
- Installed prices reported for third-party owned systems are generally similar to those for customer-owned systems.
- Prices vary considerably across residential installers operating within the same market.
- Residential new construction offers significant installed price advantages compared to retrofit applications.
- Installed prices for non-residential systems at tax-exempt customer sites are relatively high.
- Installed prices are substantially higher for systems with high-efficiency modules.
- Microinverters have a seemingly small effect on installed prices.
- Installed prices for large non-residential systems are heavily impacted by the use of tracking equipment.
As highlighted in the Lab’s first finding, declining soft costs at installers are leading to price reductions for consumers. We here at EnergySage are particularly proud of the leading role that our solar marketplace is playing in this effort. The full report is available on the LBNL website.