Price Of Solar Declining To Unprecedented Lows

Megalith

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Solar installations are rising while prices have been steadily declining since 2010. The article points out that lower costs are due to factors ranging from less costly inverters to cheaper installation and permitting.

…the latest data show that the continued decrease in solar prices is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, with total installed prices dropping by 5 percent for rooftop residential systems, and 12 percent for larger utility-scale solar farms. With solar already achieving record-low prices, the cost decline observed in 2015 indicates that the coming years will likely see utility-scale solar become cost competitive with conventional forms of electricity generation.
 

striker444

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I wonder with low prices if it would be worth it to make an extended range vehicle with like the roof of solar. Even if it gets an extra 10 miles per charge it may be worth it as that adds up. Would be cool knowing that your car is getting some miles back just by it sitting in the parking lot.
 

SparkedFire

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I am in the process of having a 6.36kW grid tie system installed. $2.75 per watt, not including the 30% ill get back with my taxes.
 
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Good. This is technology the US (and many other parts of the world) has had since the '60s and '70s, but never got anywhere thanks to oil and gas lobbying.
Honestly, while the lobbying had SOME to do with it, the main thing holding it back is that the tech back in the 60's-90's just wasn't ready. The price, capacity and lifetime of the products still weren't up to snuff.

Even now, these things are STILL modestly terrible. But, if installed by competent people in a well-planned setup, you can actually beat break-even by a truly worthwhile margin.

But, installed wrong, by dumbasses, and they're just another thing you're in debt for.
 

primetime

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Only reason the installed price is dropping is because of super cheap labor from our south. People that used to make 47 an hour are replaced by 10 dollar an hour help.
 

SLee

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Lobbying has nothing to do with it. It simply cannot compete on cost and energy density of fossil fuels.
Plus you have issues with intermittency where short-term output is affected by weather, significant seasonal output changes if you're not near the equator and where peak output is at noon but typical peak demand is 5PM-9PM. All that means a grid not only has to pay for solar, it also has to pay for reliable generation that can handle all demand even when solar isn't working.
 
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SparkedFire

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Even now, these things are STILL modestly terrible. But, if installed by competent people in a well-planned setup, you can actually beat break-even by a truly worthwhile margin.

But, installed wrong, by dumbasses, and they're just another thing you're in debt for.
The estimated ROI is about $15,000 over 25 years with my 6.36kW system. Lifetime roof penetration warranty, 25 year service warranty on the panels and 10 year service warranty on the inverter. Solar is much better than you think it is.
 

bos

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The estimated ROI is about $15,000 over 25 years with my 6.36kW system. Lifetime roof penetration warranty, 25 year service warranty on the panels and 10 year service warranty on the inverter. Solar is much better than you think it is.
Yeah in many places there is next to no ROI because energy prices are too low. I'd need to see a 100% increase in my energy prices to get any ROI in the expected lifetime of the panels.
 

nutzo

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Yeah in many places there is next to no ROI because energy prices are too low. I'd need to see a 100% increase in my energy prices to get any ROI in the expected lifetime of the panels.
And that is the problem.
Even out here in California with our expensive electricity, it still isn't cost effective for most people (20+ years to break even).
Unless you normally are paying $200+ a month (not just during the summer) you will likely never break even putting solar panels.
You would be better of taking the $15,000, investing it and using the profits to pay your electric bill.

Plus, there are other, least costly ways to cut your energy bill.
Get rid of that old fridge in your garage, replace your lights with LEDs, etc.

I replaced my central air system last spring, and the new one (spent a little more to get a more efficient unit) is using about half the power of the 20 year old unit.
I also have a 17 year old fridge that I'm getting ready to replace. It's using about 2x the power it should be using due to the failing seals and other problems.
The new fridge (making sure to get one that's better than average efficient) should take about half the power.
Over the years I've also replaced my windows and added insulation to the house.
 

SparkedFire

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And that is the problem.
Even out here in California with our expensive electricity, it still isn't cost effective for most people (20+ years to break even).
Unless you normally are paying $200+ a month (not just during the summer) you will likely never break even putting solar panels.
You would be better of taking the $15,000, investing it and using the profits to pay your electric bill.

Plus, there are other, least costly ways to cut your energy bill.
Get rid of that old fridge in your garage, replace your lights with LEDs, etc.

I replaced my central air system last spring, and the new one (spent a little more to get a more efficient unit) is using about half the power of the 20 year old unit.
I also have a 17 year old fridge that I'm getting ready to replace. It's using about 2x the power it should be using due to the failing seals and other problems.
The new fridge (making sure to get one that's better than average efficient) should take about half the power.
Over the years I've also replaced my windows and added insulation to the house.
I have a newer home, which already has energy efficient construction and newer appliances, so I decided to offset my power useage.

Remember to diversify your investments.
 

needmorecarnitine

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Only reason the installed price is dropping is because of super cheap labor from our south. People that used to make 47 an hour are replaced by 10 dollar an hour help.
I wonder how many who used to make $47/hr thought that they should save a large amount of their income because there was no way that job could last
 

sirmonkey1985

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Yeah in many places there is next to no ROI because energy prices are too low. I'd need to see a 100% increase in my energy prices to get any ROI in the expected lifetime of the panels.
yeah where i'm at electricity is cheap.. 4.5 cents a KW up to 650kW 5.2 cents from 650-850kW and 3.2 cents from 850kW or higher. what isn't cheap is gas though which sucks because i really want to replace my stove with a gas one but it costs 3x as much to use. i also live in a region where solar panels are only useful for about 4 months out of the year, not worth.

And that is the problem.
Even out here in California with our expensive electricity, it still isn't cost effective for most people (20+ years to break even).
Unless you normally are paying $200+ a month (not just during the summer) you will likely never break even putting solar panels.
You would be better of taking the $15,000, investing it and using the profits to pay your electric bill.

Plus, there are other, least costly ways to cut your energy bill.
Get rid of that old fridge in your garage, replace your lights with LEDs, etc.

I replaced my central air system last spring, and the new one (spent a little more to get a more efficient unit) is using about half the power of the 20 year old unit.
I also have a 17 year old fridge that I'm getting ready to replace. It's using about 2x the power it should be using due to the failing seals and other problems.
The new fridge (making sure to get one that's better than average efficient) should take about half the power.
Over the years I've also replaced my windows and added insulation to the house.
exactly, thats the problem my parents had and almost invested in solar.. when my sister and i were living there yeah solar panels were insanely cost effective.. once we moved out their electricity bill dropped by 60% making solar completely worthless option for them.. would take them 30 years to pay off the investment and it adds no value to their house because it's an HOA neighborhood and at any point in time they can tell you to get rid of it and you can't do shit about it.
 

primetime

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I wonder how many who used to make $47/hr thought that they should save a large amount of their income because there was no way that job could last
lol its life man lol.....and your right, scaled wages (federal subsidized) are few a far between....but fuck when i see adds online for "team leaders" at 12 dollars an hour....thats fucked up! Im guessing if you dont speak Spanish no need to apply! And that disturbs me....it just does
 
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The estimated ROI is about $15,000 over 25 years with my 6.36kW system. Lifetime roof penetration warranty, 25 year service warranty on the panels and 10 year service warranty on the inverter. Solar is much better than you think it is.
That's shitty ROI.

At $2.75 your cost is $17400 for the install. Getting your money back plus $15000 over 25 years. You'd be much better off investing that money instead.
 

collegeboy69us

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I wonder with low prices if it would be worth it to make an extended range vehicle with like the roof of solar. Even if it gets an extra 10 miles per charge it may be worth it as that adds up. Would be cool knowing that your car is getting some miles back just by it sitting in the parking lot.
As the new owner of a 2017 Volt (love it) 10 miles of "free" juice wouldn't justify the cost at all. At least here in Texas. With electricity costing a little over 7 cents per kwh, it literally costs right around $1 to completely charge the car and get ~55-60 miles of range on all electric. Even if I charged it every day wasting zero solar units, it would still be something like 30-40 years break even time at current rates. (depending on if you started with a 10k or a 15k system)

I'd love to have a solar system on my roof, but there's zero way to justify the costs, and even if electric rates double it would be hard to justify. At this point in time it would be a hobby or a toy and not a means of saving any serious money.
 

pxc

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Only reason the installed price is dropping is because of super cheap labor from our south. People that used to make 47 an hour are replaced by 10 dollar an hour help.
Labor costs are coming down due to installation improvements and scale (and more friendly permitting), so it takes fewer hours for each installation. If you're suggesting that illegal alien labor is behind that drop, that's just silly. The market is largely saturated with legacy workers and people who go through quickie training to work in solar installation.
 

Ducman69

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Y'all are going to feel pretty stupid when you buy into all this solar tech, and the eclipse happens on August 21st next year.
That's shitty ROI.

At $2.75 your cost is $17400 for the install. Getting your money back plus $15000 over 25 years. You'd be much better off investing that money instead.
It makes more sense if you have a way to store the energy and are off the grid. Could allow for some pretty slick remote getaway vacation dwellings for moderately wealthy people.
As the new owner of a 2017 Volt (love it) 10 miles of "free" juice wouldn't justify the cost at all.
You also wouldn't get it. Think about how little surface area is on the roof of your car. The only really useful application for one, which isn't a bad idea if its cheap, would be to have it run a fan system in the car so that when parked in the sun it is constantly circulating fresh air through the car so it doesn't heat up. But to create an actual charge of much significance... no way, plus your car has to be exposed to UV which is damaging to virtually everything on your car from the paint, rubber, plastic, etc.

Now what would make more sense is to use solar panels as overhang vehicle covering to protect the cars from the elements in large work parking lots, and then have plugs that employees can use on some posts. That would provide far more surface area for charging, and keep the cars cool and protected.
 

primetime

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Labor costs are coming down due to installation improvements and scale (and more friendly permitting), so it takes fewer hours for each installation. If you're suggesting that illegal alien labor is behind that drop, that's just silly. The market is largely saturated with legacy workers and people who go through quickie training to work in solar installation.
I never implied illegals per say, all i know is majority of them prefer to speak Spanish and think nothing of working way below usual scale. You can think whatever you want, cause its not hurting you job wise.
 

Gorankar

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About 6 years back I had a cost study for adding solar to an apt complex under construction. Unfortunately, ROI at the time was estimated to be at just shy of 40 years due to relatively low local energy prices. Then the absolute killer reared it's head. I just just decided that I would have the tenants pay for their electricity. I had also considered it 2 years ago when I was having a new house built. ROI was still going to take 30+ years.
It's sad, because Southwestern OK has just over 240 sunny, and an additional 45 partly sunny days a year, and the highest electrical use is during the summer months where most of those sunny days are found.

I would guess that it already makes money sense in some places, and that it will eventually here. Once it starts making money sense people will do it in droves.
 

sfsuphysics

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Only reason the installed price is dropping is because of super cheap labor from our south. People that used to make 47 an hour are replaced by 10 dollar an hour help.
While that might be partially true, the real reason is probably that there are more companies doing it, so more competition means less gouging. But lets say $50/hr laborers, now going by a "standard" installation you have 2 people minimum, but you MAY have 3 (one doing electrical while others are doing wiring), they can get everything done in 3 days assuming that there are no major problems. Ok lets see 3 people x 8 hrs/day x 3 days x $50/hr, that's $3600 in labor costs for an install. Now anyone who has every had a quote from a solar company, and also out of curiosity found out how much THEY could buy solar panels for, know that labor costs usually triple an estimate. So $5000 for equipment x 3 = $15000 estimate, basically there's $6400 in costs that the company keeps, now granted there is overhead and I can dig that to an extent, but the companies that minimize that overhead (i.e. do you really need a full office with secretaries etc etc) they are the ones who can undercut everyone and it's not because they're paying cheap for their labor.

Now that aside, I've dealt with solar companies, and the people doing the job are hardly highly skilled laborers, they put down a mounting system which is as simple as an erector set, and then they have to put panels on the roof, screw them to the mounting system, and then the electrician runs all the wires, conduit, etc. The really are not $47/hr type of employees, the only real "license" they have is some made up one to make the company sound special, the electrician is the only one that actually needs to have the license to do his job. And as I showed, even at $50/hr there is no way labor is a huge aspect of the cost, they'll make you think it is, but it really is the overhead of running their business you're paying for, not super highly qualified laborers who's doing your install.
 

sfsuphysics

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And that is the problem.
Even out here in California with our expensive electricity, it still isn't cost effective for most people (20+ years to break even).
Unless you normally are paying $200+ a month (not just during the summer) you will likely never break even putting solar panels.
You would be better of taking the $15,000, investing it and using the profits to pay your electric bill.
The just looking at PG&E rates over the past 15 years (available on their website too), the average electricity rate increased about 81% over 15 years. How would investing have done over that same time period? Don't forget you need to include the mini-crashes that wiped out everyone's retirement account.


I replaced my central air system last spring, and the new one (spent a little more to get a more efficient unit) is using about half the power of the 20 year old unit.
I also have a 17 year old fridge that I'm getting ready to replace. It's using about 2x the power it should be using due to the failing seals and other problems.
The new fridge (making sure to get one that's better than average efficient) should take about half the power.
Over the years I've also replaced my windows and added insulation to the house.
That's super awesome, glad it's working out for you. Now translate this to renters who are not going to pay for major improvements like that, nor is the landlord, yet the renters are very often paying their own electricity rates in some way, it might not be directly to the electric company, but there's no way the landlord is taking a hit because someone wants to be cool all summer long.
 

DrLobotomy

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While that might be partially true, the real reason is probably that there are more companies doing it, so more competition means less gouging. But lets say $50/hr laborers, now going by a "standard" installation you have 2 people minimum, but you MAY have 3 (one doing electrical while others are doing wiring), they can get everything done in 3 days assuming that there are no major problems. Ok lets see 3 people x 8 hrs/day x 3 days x $50/hr, that's $3600 in labor costs for an install. Now anyone who has every had a quote from a solar company, and also out of curiosity found out how much THEY could buy solar panels for, know that labor costs usually triple an estimate. So $5000 for equipment x 3 = $15000 estimate, basically there's $6400 in costs that the company keeps, now granted there is overhead and I can dig that to an extent, but the companies that minimize that overhead (i.e. do you really need a full office with secretaries etc etc) they are the ones who can undercut everyone and it's not because they're paying cheap for their labor.

Now that aside, I've dealt with solar companies, and the people doing the job are hardly highly skilled laborers, they put down a mounting system which is as simple as an erector set, and then they have to put panels on the roof, screw them to the mounting system, and then the electrician runs all the wires, conduit, etc. The really are not $47/hr type of employees, the only real "license" they have is some made up one to make the company sound special, the electrician is the only one that actually needs to have the license to do his job. And as I showed, even at $50/hr there is no way labor is a huge aspect of the cost, they'll make you think it is, but it really is the overhead of running their business you're paying for, not super highly qualified laborers who's doing your install.
Well. No. My friend installs solar panels here in SATX and he is a VERY licensed electrician. CPS is an old dusty power company that has many a hula hoop to jump through before you can hook up to their crusty old grid. So you can't just have anyone doing the work. He also has a Cisco cert and has been in the PC game for 15 years. I have had him install whole house backup gas generators and electrical and network runs also.

Also on a separate note, different states have different rebate programs etc. and you can't judge the whole thing by the same rules. Many a power grid is its own entity and own rules and they will let/make/deny it happen their way.
 

Bigbacon

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I hope one day it really is pretty damn cheap. My house would be absolutely perfect for solar.....except...out here your get jack for the power you give back and still have to pay money to the power company.
 

primetime

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I hope one day it really is pretty damn cheap. My house would be absolutely perfect for solar.....except...out here your get jack for the power you give back and still have to pay money to the power company.
Its getting there little by little.....even now you could do your own for CLOSE to 1 dollar per Kwatt setup. Personally i cant wait for quality 400 watt panels to drop to around 100 each! (if it ever does) People will be installing them as common as ceiling fans!
 

DrLobotomy

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Start wiring up for DC. Toss out all those transformers and power supplies. Buy your appliances at the RV place since they are all 12V. DC is the way man. Locally generated, locally consumed with no middle man tickling your taint and taking your cash.
 

primetime

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Start wiring up for DC. Toss out all those transformers and power supplies. Buy your appliances at the RV place since they are all 12V. DC is the way man. Locally generated, locally consumed with no middle man tickling your taint and taking your cash.
yea my thoughts are a little different....I wouldn't even use battery's at all......would just sell all the power i could back to the utility and make money that way. I can use a back up Gen for emergency anyway...Battery's are just one more part that needs replacing.
 

WangChung

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Y'all are going to feel pretty stupid when you buy into all this solar tech, and the eclipse happens on August 21st next year.
Uh... you know we don't live on that planet from 'Pitch Black' right?

notsureifserious.jpg
 

nutzo

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The just looking at PG&E rates over the past 15 years (available on their website too), the average electricity rate increased about 81% over 15 years. How would investing have done over that same time period? Don't forget you need to include the mini-crashes that wiped out everyone's retirement account.
I'm on SCE which is a little cheaper than PG&E, but still very expensive compared to other parts of the country.
Don't know about you, but my investments have done ok during that timeframe. Of course I didn't panic and sell when the market went down, so my investments have more than recovered from the crash.
 
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I was thinking of investigating this as we seem to have high energy bills and will likely own at least one plug-in hybrid soon. I haven't in the past as the ROI has always seemed so long. I may still look into it, places like Energy sage are showing a ROI of less than 10 years for several homes in my area. I know nothing about it so this all may be a sham.
 

c3k

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For me to consider solar, I'd have to see billboards equal in area to the installed panels which portray all the Chinese strip mines and water pollution caused by the production of these "green energy" sources.

Meantime, I'll just use Nuclear. Or Coal. Or Oil.
 

Ruoh

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You know, installing solar isn't just about YOUR ROI. It's about everyone, and each install helps the world just a bit more. Same thing with buying fuel efficient vehicles and appliances.
 

steakman1971

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I'd be happy if I could just use solar in the summer to help out with the AC costs. My home gets full sunlight in the summer. Winter time I don't get as much daylight, so not sure how well it would work. Still, if it ran my AC during the day - I bet I'd save about 40-50% of my energy bill during the day.
I actually checked into getting some solar for my house about 9 years ago. It was going to be very expensive at the time - I think it was going to be between 50-60k? This system was also going to have batteries I'd need to maintain. Since that time frame, I know the price on the panels (and efficiency) has improved quite a bit. I'd probably not worry about the batteries (although the Tesla device might be interesting to check out). A lot of people don't use the batteries at all, so could save quite a bit by skipping these.
 

swetmore

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I am in the process of having a 6.36kW grid tie system installed. $2.75 per watt, not including the 30% ill get back with my taxes.
Did you compute the average lifespan of the panels ? I know they degrade pretty bad over time. We have some neighbors trying to sell Solar (First Solar) to our hood. Problem is in Texas we average a new roof every 8-10 years due to hail.. Not to mention the bouts of straight line winds that come every year along with threats of Tornadoes. Most of our neighbors hate the idea cause they are hideous anyhow. If I lived out in the Arizona / California desert, then maybe if the ROI was there. Who knows, in 10 years your entire system will probably be obsolete anyhow. To me it would just be another headache to finance, insure and maintain. Electric rates are really cheap right now, and people around me are better off with investing in other energy saving materials.
 

primetime

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Sometimes the power company has rebates up to 12k.....even in my area they have 2.5k rebate. Your installer might be keeping it as part of the deal as well. If they don't file for it.....do the paperwork and they might send you the check! Trust me lol
 
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