Listen Up: Future Rooftop Solar Costs — Getting to $2.50/watt

The solar industry is one of our most obvious success stories. Our industry directly employs 261,000 people. We generate energy that is both clean and renewable. And we generate this energy at prices that are less than conventional utility power — as low as 6 cents per kwh. But the industry is not resting on its laurels: installation costs for residential solar will continue to decline (BTW, what’s a laurel?). $1.50 per installed watt was the original target of the SunShot program for residential solar costs.

I think it’s going to take many more years to get to these low installation costs — even getting to $2.00 watt on the average seems almost insurmountable to me. Not because of the hardware costs; these are continuing to decline. But because of the soft costs like labor, sales and marketing, financing and overhead. Nevertheless, $2.50/watt is a target that is within our sites over the next few years.

Please join me on this Week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as I dissect the current solar costs for residential solar installations. We’ll particularly focus on the three most likely ways that these average installation costs will be reduced: higher panel efficiency, less expensive equipment and better component integration. But don’t hold your breath…overhead is more likely to go up than down.

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

This podcast was originally produced by Spice Solar and was presented here with permission.

Lead image credit: Patrick Breitenbach | Flickr

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As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs -- very affordably. The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20 minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.

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