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A primary objective of U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is to reduce the price of solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies by approximately 75% from between 2010 and 2020. With 2020 target just over the horizon, ScottMadden reviewed progress in solar PV price reductions to date. The analysis shows the prices of utility-scale solar PV systems in the United States have fallen more sharply than residential solar system prices from 2010 to 2015. A primary reason for the difference is declining module costs have had a greater impact on utility-scale system prices given their larger share of total project costs. Consequently, utility-scale systems can offer electric utilities economic and operational advantages over residential systems.

This article provides insight into the rapid price decline for solar PV systems, compares utility-scale solar PV price declines to residential solar PV price declines, and discusses implications, including the potential for each market sector to reach SunShot Initiative targets.

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Paul Quinlan Clean Tech Manager

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