Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Solar Prices Dropped off a Cliff and Into the Ocean

Here's a great article in Clean Technica by   on the falling prices of solar (PV). The cost per watt is the key measure to follow. Basically a rule of thumb is that $3 per Watt installed should be profitable, before any tax credit considerations. In 2006 the cost was $3.50 per watt for the panels. Now prices have dropped below $0.50 and would be lower if there wasn't a trade tiff going on with China.  Even with $1 to $2 per watt installed, the prices are getting to be crazy low. The Investment Tax Credit dropped to 26% percent in 2020 and will drop to 22% in 2021, but the installed costs after tax benefits should be less than $2 per watt. That's a crazy profitable investment, especially for businesses. (See our discussion and  Solar Calculator on the residential and business PV investments.)

We've been wrong several times in the last couple years. We've said that the real breakthrough in the home solar system will be the battery technology. Well, that is true. But we have underestimated the cost curve drop with PV. True, it is not breakthrough technologies, it is learning curve of production and economies of scale.

When we talk about the drop of costs in PV we still think that the amount of power that can be squeezed out of a square inch of solar exposed roof is probably not going to significantly improve for several years. Don't delay your solar investment decision for a breakthrough.

At this point our assessment of batteries is that the technology and the prices are converging to make batteries a better investment. Depending on your need to be always powered, batteries are probably worth waiting. Probably 3 to 5 years. Maybe design the system with batteries in mind. Maybe design the system for expansion. Expect that you will charge your electric vehicles, for example. If you have extra roof space, expect that you will power your neighbors house.

Just a reminder, not all photovoltaic (PV) is created equal. Check the warranties and the depletion rates of your panels. 

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SolarInvest2020 Profit Calc