Friday, March 2, 2012

N.C. solar prices dropping

The installed cost per watt of solar photovoltaic systems in North Carolina dropped 36 percent between 2006 and 2011, the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association reports.


The NCSEA credits falling prices for a spike in solar installations. By last September, it says, North Carolina ranked eighth-highest in the nation for installed solar PV capacity. More than 1,100 systems with a total capacity of 128 megawatts registered with the N.C. Utilities Commission between 2006 and 2011.

Conventional electricity costs in the state, meanwhile, rose at an annual 3 percent average over the past decade, the study says.

The study projects that the largest solar PV systems, those larger than 500 kilowatts that take state and federal tax credits, will become cost-competitive with commercial retail electricity prices for all N.C. utilities in 2015. The smallest systems, 10 kilowatts or less, would reach parity by 2020.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

This also accounts for the recent losses at numerous solar panel providers who are not meeting performance requirements of their federal loan guarantees. Solyndra was only the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Now can someone tell me some local companies that install residential solar panels and what a ball park price range would be for an average house using 10-20 kilowatts?

Ron from Rockingham said...

You're smart enough to pass the eye test and post on the blog, but you can't Google "residential solar panel installation charlotte?" I found about a half-dozen in 5 seconds.

Anonymous said...

Argand Energy Solutions at 2725 Westinghouse Boulevard is a local company that installs solar systems.

Anonymous said...

Southern Energy Management is one of the largest solar installers in the Southeast. They are headquartered near Raleigh, but have a Charlotte office.

I don't work for them, but I did work for a solar company in Maryland for a while so I'm fairly familiar with the industry.

A 10-20 kilowatt system would run $40-80,000 before the federal tax credit and the state tax credit, which amounts to 65% of the cost.

The state tax credit is carried over a 5 year period and cannot exceed your state tax liability.

You would need an enormous roof or a decent sized yard to fit that though. A 20kW system is roughly 100 panels. Each panel is roughly 10 square feet, so you'd need 2000 square feet of roof space all facing south, west, or east. Few people have an arrangement that will accommodate that, so you'd probably have to have a ground mounted system, which will raise the cost.

You'd probably be looking at a payback period of 8-10 years, although it could be a bit less since that is a large system and economies of scale take effect.

Anonymous said...

"This also accounts for the recent losses at numerous solar panel providers who are not meeting performance requirements of their federal loan guarantees. Solyndra was only the beginning"

Solyndra was always a gamble. They made a bet that silicon prices would stay high, so they created a new type of solar panel that used other materials.

Silicon prices plummeted (it is the second most abundant element on the earth, so I'm not sure why the ever expected it to stay sky high in cost) and they tanked.

It was a mistake for the government to give them money, but they are not indicative of the solar market as a whole.

They were a manufacturer, not an integrator. The solar installation business is doing very well. Utility scale systems are cost competitive without any subsidy in some areas of the country.

Manufacturing solar panels, just like cell phones, computers, and many other tech goods simply isn't going to compete with the cheaper production costs in Asian markets.

Anonymous said...

It didn't help Solyndra either that China started offering big subsidies to their solar manufacturers. Solyndra's bet on non-silicon solar cells flopped at the same time low cost solar panels flooded the market. Lot's of things went wrong in this case.

And fyi, solar makes up a tiny part of federal loan guaranteed on energy. And so far, Solyndra is the only one to have gone bad.

Anonymous said...

If ronnie rayguns had not done everythinginhis power to destroy the burgeoning solar power boom started by Jimmy Carter we would be so advanced today that NOBODY could catch up. One of the first thing ronnie did was snatch the solar water heaters off the roof of the White House and destroy the tax credit system for renewable energy, snc ehe was like the bushes controlled by the fossil fuel industry. So if you have problems with the current state of solar in the USA put the blame where it belongs-AT THE FEET OF THE REPUBLICANS WHO HAVE CONTROLLED THIS COUNTRY FOR TOO LONG!!!!!

Europeanexpat said...

"The study projects that the largest solar PV systems, those larger than 500 kilowatts that take state and federal tax credits, will become cost-competitive with commercial retail electricity prices for all N.C. utilities in 2015. The smallest systems, 10 kilowatts or less, would reach parity by 2020."

Since the subsidies cover 65% of price, it means that if they are removed (which is likely as we go broke) the lenght of the period for smaller systems may be well past 2020.

Anonymous said...

A Democrat party shill blaming Reagan. How cute. How clueless. How predictable.

Archiguy said...

Anon 10:06 has it absolutely correct. China is heavily subsidizing its solar industry with the aim of dominating the market in green energy which is forecast to be THE growth industry in the 21st century world. More than anything, that's why Solyndra failed, not because it was a sucker bet.

The government has always tried to bet on emerging technologies and attempted to pick winners. The oil, coal, and gas industry has been heavily subsidized for decades, much to the delight of the owners and shareholders of those companies. But burning dead dinosaurs for fuel is a dead-end proposition.

The Obama Administration was smart to use Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to try and give the solar industry a chance to compete before the opportunity is lost and the Chinese and Germans build an insurmountable lead. You'd think conservatives would realize this and get on board, but no. They've bet so heavily on oil & coal that they'll ride that horse until it just drops dead. The problem is, our current and future economy will likely die right along with it.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, a number of US based solar panel manufacturuers have bit the dust recently including Evergreen and BP Solar. Even the ARRA could not save them. One of the contributing factors of the decline in solar prices is the glut of supply when the credit market collapsed. But the previous poster is correct about China trying to take over the market.

Several large companies were comtemplating large PV projects but the squeeze of the credit market pulled the plug on them.

I am not sure the payback time another poster had noted are correct. The CEO of one of the biggest solar installers in NC noted in a speech a couple of weeks ago in Raleigh that without subsidies, tax breaks, incentives and other financial breaks, solar would never pay for itself. It makes you wonder how long we should artifically hold up this market if it will never support itaelf.

Lastly, energy (kwhs) bought by customer is what pays for the plants and other facilities to deliver that energy at the time the customer throws the switch. AS of now, when these systems come on the grid, the utiltiy is forced to buy that energy in a never breakeven scenario. However, little of that energy is avaialble at the time usage peaks occur so the utility still has to build plants or buy energy form somewhere else at the time of that peak. The usual summer peak occurs in the hour that ends at 6:00. At that time PV systems are producing under the best of conditions, less than 25% of their rated output.

I am continually amazed at the lack of understanding there exists about these systems and the business around it.

Oh and as for the removal of the energy efficient programs in the Reagan years, that was driven mostly by the hysteria generated when swimming pools were allowed to be written off because they could be part of a heat pump system heating and cooling from a more moderate temperture than the outside air.

Anonymous said...

I heard of a solar energy installer, Accelerate Solar, that does installs in Charlotte, NC and they can give you a free quote, "Anonymous User." See http://accelerate-solar.com

Anonymous said...

People should learn from other's experience.
Germanys experience

Anonymous said...

Germany is located in northern Europe and has far fewer days of sunshine than we do in the American Southeast.

Anonymous said...

You have to realize why Germany's solar PV was as strong as it was. And you have to also understand why it has collapsed. It was unsustainable at the high price of the feed in tariff. Many have attributed part of the Euro's demise to these feed in tariifs. Additionally what has been little reported is electrical trouble these systems have caused on many residential grids.

Agate said...

Thanks for sharing such a information on solar prices dropping, This will be inspiration to all the Electric Providers. I loved to read it. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful stuff.

Anonymous said...

Give Renewgen Technologies a try. They installed a beautiful system on my house and can do larger systems too. Contact info: renewgen@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Anon from March 2, 2012 5:13 PM ... I don't know which "CEO of one of the biggest solar installers in NC" you're talking about, but most experts in the NC solar industry don't think that way. If you actually read the NCSEA Study (here: http://energync.org/publication/levelized-cost-of-solar-photovoltaics-in-north-carolina/2012/02/29/levelized-cost-of-solar-photovoltaics-in-north-carolina-2012/ ) it says solar will pay for itself even WITHOUT incentives.

As for your peak demand claim, it's just plain wrong. According to Duke Energy's website peak hours are "mid-morning to early evening during the summer months of June through September." Which happens to coincide with solar's best production times. That's one of the strengths of solar; it takes some of the load off fossil fuels during the most strenuous parts of the day for the grid.

Janice said...

I am so happy to see that the prices for residential solar systems are dropping. Good timing as I have been doing my research to convert my home to solar. I look forward to helping the environment, saving money and harnessing the power of the sun.

Brian said...

Great info, thanks for posting. This helped me know more about solar panel installation cost. Good luck on your research.

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