Solar Prices Dropped Again In USA, 5–12% Lower In 2015

Originally published on CleanTechnica.

Two new studies conducted by Berkeley Labs have concluded that the median installed price of solar in the United States fell by 5% to 12% in 2015.

The conclusions are part and parcel of the latest editions of two recurring “state of the market” reports published by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Specifically, the reports analysed the market for distributed solar PV systems and found that, in 2015, residential systems declined by $0.20 per watt (or 5%) year over year — by $0.30/W (or 7%) for smaller non-residential systems, and by $0.30/W (or 9%) for larger non-residential systems.

Utility-scale solar that came online during 2015 also fell, dropping by $0.30/W (or 12%) compared to 2014 figures.

Further, preliminary data analysed by Berkeley Labs has shown that prices have continued to fall during the first 6 months of 2016 across most US states and market segments.


“This marked the sixth consecutive year of significant price reductions for distributed PV systems in the US,” said Galen Barbose of Berkeley Lab’s Electricity Markets and Policy Group.

This is especially interesting given the relatively stable price of solar PV modules since 2012, placing the burden of cost savings primarily in the “soft costs” basket — including marketing and customer acquisition, system design, installation labor, and permitting and inspections.

The new research also analysed power purchase agreement (PPA) pricing, which thanks to lower installed project costs and higher capacity factors has resulted in levelized PPA prices from utility-scale solar PV projects dropping precipitously — by $20–30/MWh per year on average from 2006 through 2013, with a smaller price decline of approximately $10/MWh per year evident among PPAs signed in 2014 and 2015.


Falling PPA prices have enabled the utility-scale market to expand beyond the traditional strongholds of California and the Southwest into up-and-coming regions like Texas, the Southeast, and even the Midwest,” said Berkeley Lab’s Mark Bolinger.

Both reports, along with accompanying slide decks and data files, can be downloaded for free from and

In addition, the extensive underlying database of project-level data developed for Tracking the Sun is available to the public and can be downloaded through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Open PV Project.

Highlights of both reports will be presented through two separate webinars:

Tracking the Sun IX

Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Registration Link:

Utility-Scale Solar 2015

Thu, Sep 8, 2016, 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Registration Link:

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