Thursday, November 30, 2023

Are Solar Panels Getting Cheaper

Information You Need To Know Before You Buy

MORNING BUSINESS REPORT: Cheaper solar panels, Target recalls Santa mailboxes, on-time delivery

This Solar Panel Prices South Africa guide will show you what you need to know to get the right deal for your budget.We will also cover all the components needed for a complete solar system. We are often asked to quote on solar panels when the end user actually means a complete solar energy system, solar panels are just one part of whats needed for a solar panel installation.

Before you even get prices for solar panels decide what your requirements are and what type of system you want.

Do you want to supplement your energy needs and reduce your power bill or do you want to get off the grid totally? Or do you just need backup for when the power is down?

Cheaper Ways To Get Solar Power At Home Now

These budget alternatives offer the benefits of solar energy without the high price.

A solar water heater is just one way to add renewable energy to your home without installing a full-scale solar system.

Did you know that the cost of installing a solar power system for all of your electricity needs can be as much as $20,000 ? Ouch. But wait, don’t give up on solar just yet. If making your entire home solar is out of your budget, you can still add smaller and less expensive solar elements that help save on electricity. Let’s take a look at the options.

How Much Does A Solar Panel Cost

Prices have been coming down steadily over the years. The total cost will depend on how many kilowatts of power your array will generate. According to consumer reports, after solar tax credits are accounted for, the cost for a solar panel system on an average-sized house in the U.S. in 2021 ranges from $11,000 to $15,000.

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Should I Buy Solar Panels Now Or In The Future

Let us say it one last time: For solar energy, the price reduction has already reached its saturation point. If you are still looking for more earning potential from this venture, we suggest looking into green energy product bundles.

If that phrase is new to you, get ready to become a level two clean energy consumer. Lets look at a very recent development in clean energy tech.

In California, lithium-ion batteries are soon going to become a hot pick. Why? The utility SDG& E recently released guidelines about implementing new policies related to demand-side management and time-of-use rates. This new initiative benefits those who have both solar and storage installed in their homes.

For example, a typical net metering solar incentive usually yields a solar rooftop owner about 26 cents per kWh during the day. However, the payment increases when you have an energy storage device installed along with your solar panel. You will enjoy 47 cents per kWh since a solar-plus-storage combination helps SDG& E resolve a power system phenomenon called the duck curve.

That is just the tip of the iceberg for unlocking the full potential of green technology. Like we said in the introduction, a common pitfall for people looking to invest in this project is that they often get too hung up with solar as their only investment vehicle. However, the reality is that solar plays one role among many in the grand scheme of the clean energy transition.

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When it was first introduced, solar power was so expensive that it was a punchline in the energy business. Since then prices have fallen, and today solar power is cheaper than coal.


For most of its history, solar power hasn’t been seen as real competition by the fossil fuel industry. It was always too expensive to get a real foothold. But now prices for solar have fallen so far, it’s become one of the cheapest kinds of energy on the market. Stacey Vanek Smith and Darius Rafieyan from Planet Money’s The Indicator podcast have the story.

STACEY VANEK SMITH, BYLINE: Back in 2006, Ben Ho was the lead energy economist under President George W. Bush. And he was part of a team looking for energy alternatives.

BEN HO: And back then, like, solar was almost like a joke.

DARIUS RAFIEYAN, BYLINE: The energy source to beat was coal. It was the cheapest source of energy.

HO: Coal cost around 5 cents or 4 cents per kilowatt hour. Natural gas was also in that range. And solar was, like, a dollar per kilowatt hour.

RAFIEYAN: Solar power was 20 times more expensive than coal. Solar was just never going to happen.

VANEK SMITH: And then something changed – actually, a bunch of somethings.

RAFIEYAN: So for one thing, government subsidies on the state and federal level brought costs down for businesses and residents, got more people to buy into solar.

RAFIEYAN: From $1 per kilowatt hour 15 years ago to 4 cents per kilowatt hour today.

VANEK SMITH: Cheaper than…

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How Much Will Solar Grow Globally

The United States is actually not the largest market in the world for solar. China is outpacing the US by far, installing solar at about double the rate of the US. China, like most US states, have a renewable energy target. Theyâre aiming for 20% renewable energy by 2030. Thatâs a big shift for a country that used coal to power much of its industrial growth.

Here some more highlights from the reports:

  • In 2019, solar power supplies only 2% of the worlds energy, but it will grow to 22% by 2050.
  • Massive, grid-scale batteries will be a key catalyst for this growth. Batteries will be 64% cheaper by 2040, and the world will have installed 359 GW of battery power by 2050.
  • The cumulative amount of solar investment will hit $4.2 trillion by 2050.
  • In that same period, coal usage will drop by half globally, down to 12% of the total energy supply.
  • In the United States, we will have nearly stopped building new coal and nuclear power plants. Both technologies will basically disappear from the electric grid by 2050.
  • India is projected to continue to build some coal power to meet its growing electricity demand, in part driven by air conditioning which will double globally. India is projected to add 170 GW of coal capacity by 2050, but this will be dwarfed by renewables which will be 1,500 GW in the same time period.
  • 67% of Indias electricity will be zero carbon by 2050, and 70% of that will come from solar.

Taking A Look At The Trends

Now, for this section, we will rely on the good old noggins of our friends at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory . We took a look at their cost benchmark reports during 2018 and 2020, and heres what we found.

Based on the figures in their report, we can see that the residential solar installed costs have stopped dropping recently . As of today, the PV cost benchmark is $2.7 per Watt DC for residential PV systems.

Table: Figure: Note:U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System and Energy Storage Cost Benchmark: Q1 2020

The figure and table tell you that solar panels have become more compact, efficient, and cheaper in recent years, all thanks to the advancement of technology. Of course, market forces play a significant role in propelling the growth of clean energy forward.

It is also important to point out that the PV material used for NRELs 2018 study is polycrystalline, whereas the 2020 study used monocrystalline. Recall in our previous 5kW case study the difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon panels. Go figure out why that comparison is noteworthy.

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Falling Solar Panel Prices Spell Sunny Future For Clean Energy

Solar electricity has fallen in cost faster than predicted. Within a decade, it will be cheaper to shut down existing coal-fired plants and build new solar plants in their place, experts say.

The plummeting cost of turning sunlight into electricity is beating forecasts by decades, speeding the transition toward a clean energy system.

Solar prices have sunk low enough to make photovoltaics the cheapest source of electricity in most of the world undercutting fossil fuels in price even before counting costs like air pollution and climate change. Averaging about $0.05/kWh, the cost of generating solar electricity has reached lows that six years ago the International Energy Agency did not expect to come until the middle of the century.

When Jenny Chase started working on solar energy in 2006, her job title was head of “improbable technologies” and she thought solar could only ever provide 1% of the world’s electricity mix. “Now, it’s already gone north of 2%,” said Chase, a solar analyst at energy consultancy BloombergNEF.

The price of renewables like solar matters for climate change. The energy sector is responsible for about three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions mainly from burning coal, oil and gas and governments must rapidly decarbonize their electricity grids to meet targets that keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius .

Forecasters have underestimated the rate at which solar capacity would grow

Where is solar energy cheapest?

Bigger Wafers Better Cells

DIY Solar Panel System – How to Do it CHEAPER!!

For most of the 2010s, the standard solar wafer was a 156-millimeter square of polysilicon, about the size of the front of a CD case. Now, companies are making the squares bigger to boost efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs. Producers are pushing 182- and 210-millimeter wafers, and the larger sizes will grow from about 19% of the market share this year to more than half by 2023, according to Wood Mackenzies Sun.

The factories that wire wafers into cells which convert electrons excited by photons of light into electricity are adding new capacity for designs like heterojunction or tunneloxide passivated contact cells. While more expensive to make, those structures allow the electrons to keep bouncing around for longer, increasing the amount of power they generate.

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Do Solar Batteries Affect The Installation Costs

Adding a solar battery storage system will inevitably increase the overall costs of your solar panel investment, but it can also mean that you get even more out of your solar panels by using stored electricity when the sun has gone down.

The average prices for batteries can range between £1,200 and £6,000, depending on the battery type, lifespan, and quality. So, if you want to include a storage solution be prepared to pay more up-front.

‘glimpse Of The Future’ As Power Prices Go Negative

This future of cheap power is already here at least sometimes.

Last Saturday in South Australia, renewables accounted for a staggering 135 per cent of total demand, breaking the world record for the proportion of solar and wind supplied to a large grid.

As a result of all this excess generation, the spot price of power fell to minus $35.95 per megawatt hour.

Energy generation was curtailed, batteries charged up, and the excess exported to Victoria, which is connected to the SA grid.

“It’s a glimpse of the future,” says Frank Jotzo, a professor of climate change economics at Australian National University .

“The direction of travel in Australia for electricity prices is very clearly down.”

The decline in electricity prices is largely thanks to new solar, wind and battery projects coming online, according to the Australian Energy Market Commission in a recent report.

Among renewables, solar dominates, and it’s expected this trend will continue over the next decade, with solar to account for more than half of generation by 2030.

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Not All Homes Are Suitable For Solar Panels

To maximise what your panels can make, it’s best to make sure your home is right for them:

  • You usually need a predominantly south-facing roof. If your roof faces south-west or west you’ll still get some benefit, but it may be less effective, and you might not get the maximum savings.
  • Your roof should be unshaded between 10am and 4pm. While some early or late shading from other buildings or trees is OK, during the peak period for daylight you want the panels to be out of any shade.
  • You need a fair bit of space. Solar panels typically take up two square metres each, so the size of your roof matters.
  • Your roof needs to be in good condition. Make sure you’ve had an inspection carried out to ensure your roof isn’t damaged, as this could affect the installation. If you have old tiles, it may be worth getting them replaced before your panels are installed.
  • It’s best to have a diagonal roof to catch the most rays. If you want to install panels on a flat roof it could cost more, as you may need fixings to hold the panels in place.
  • How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar Panels On A Home

    Solar Panels

    There are a lot of factors that go into the cost of a home solar panel system, and a lot of choices you can make that affect the final price you pay. Still, its useful to know what the industry trends are.

    The table below lists the median price of home solar in different states in the US. The data is from the Tracking the Sun report. Note that these prices are the total installed cost of the system, including all equipment and labor.

    3.76 $24,440

    The price compared to 20 or 10 years ago is impressive, but the recent decline in price isnt nearly as dramatic. This means that you can probably expect the cost of solar to continue to drop, but dont expect a big cost savings.

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    Polysilicon Shortages Have Caused Prices To Rise In 2021

    The pandemic caused chaos in the price of everything, from toilet paper to pork chops. The prices of raw materials for solar panels were affected too, especially polysilicon, which is used to make silicon cells.

    While pandemic-related factory slowdowns caused a shortage of polysilicon, thats no longer the reason behind a near-doubling of the price in 2021. Instead, were seeing a shortage of materials due to a high global demand for solar panels. Its not just polysilicon, but silver, copper, and solar glass.

    At the start of 2021, the price of polysilicon was $11/kg, but skyrocketed to $28.50/kg by summer. The price seems to have now plateaued. Increased factory capacity is coming online later in 2021, which hopefully will drive prices down again.

    But another factor is a US trade action against polysilicon companies in Chinas Xinjiang region that the US accuses of using forced labor. The Xinjiang region is a major supplier of polysilicon, so this is another factor affecting the price of solar panels in the US.

    Still, these shortages are expected to be temporary. As manufacturing capacity adjusts to demand in the next few years, we should see the long term trend of cheaper solar panels to continue.

    Yes Solar Is Getting Cheaper But It Needs To Pick Up The Pace

    “Okay, wait,” you might be thinking. “Isn’t solar already getting cheaper?” Yes and no.

    It’s true that over the past five years, the cost of crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels the current solar technology of choice has fallen 80 percent, as China has ramped up manufacturing and the efficiency of cells improves incrementally. In the US, the price of installed utility-scale solar has dropped from $6 per watt in 2007 to around $3 per watt in 2014.

    As with many technologies, there seems to be a consistent learning curve for silicon photovoltaic panels costs have historically fallen 18 percent for every doubling of production. So Sivaram and Kann extrapolate that forward. If the world manufactured enough panels in 2050 to provide one-third of our electricity, we could expect the installed price to drop to somewhere between $0.30 and $0.70 per watt:

    That’s pretty darn cheap! And it shows how far we can get simply by deploying and tinkering with existing tech. But the middle or high end of that range might not be enough to outpace value deflation.

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    Estimate Residential Solar Panel Cost

    The brunt of the expense with solar panels is in installation and the purchase of the actual panels.

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    Minimal long-term expenses can make up for the upfront costs. Most systems dont require much maintenance and are designed to last for 20 years or more with little change to the amount of electricity produced, Nilsen says.

    When calculating the total price, consider how much energy you regularly consume your usage is listed on your monthly utility bill and what size system will generate the amount needed. Some tools, like the SolarReviews calculator, estimate the system size for you.

    With installation, an average residential 5kW size system costs between $3 and $5 per watt, according to the CSE, which results in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. That cost is before any tax credits and incentives.

    If you know your current energy usage, you can calculate how much youll need to pay for solar panels.

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    Then comparison shop for solar panels as you would other big-ticket items, such as a car or TV, says Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of the solar marketplace EnergySage. Some companies lower installation costs through rebates and other programs.

    Aggarwal recommends getting quotes from three to five contractors. EnergySage compiles solar companies customer reviews, certifications, Better Business Bureau profiles and other information to help you find reputable providers.

    Can Solar Power Become Cheap Enough To Dominate

    Cheap, Flexible Solar Panels on the Horizon

    I was curious to hear reactions to Sivaram and Kann’s argument, so I ran it by Justin Baca, the vice president for markets and research at the Solar Energy Industries Association, the main trade group for the solar industry.

    Importantly, Baca also pointed out that many US electricity markets remain heavily regulated, and are likely to be for many years to come. In those regulated grid systems, solar could end up being shielded somewhat from declining wholesale prices.

    That said, Baca did agree with the broader point that solar would have to continuously get cheaper, even if he wasn’t sure 25 cents per watt was the number to fixate on. “The exact number they landed on isn’t as important as the idea,” he says. But Baca was also more sanguine about the current trajectory of R& D efforts: “Every manufacturer is already thinking about innovation anyway, to stay ahead of competitors,” he said, pointing to FirstSolar’s work on thin film and SolarCity’s advanced solar plant in Buffalo.4

    Interestingly, Baca also pointed out that solar innovation tends to happen in a pattern of punctuated equilibrium, with steady incremental improvements unfolding for years and then occasional big step changes. One takeaway there is that extrapolating from current trends can be really tough.

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