Residential solar prices hit record low in 2020, says EnergySage

Chart showing the median cost per watt for a residential solar system from 2014-2020. Credit: EnergySage

This week online solar shopping comparison company EnergySage released its twelfth semiannual Solar Marketplace Intel Report, which is based on millions of transaction-level data points generated within the EnergySage Solar Marketplace throughout 2020.

The company tracks the evolving pricing, equipment, and consumer preference trends shaping today’s U.S. residential solar industry by connecting solar buyers and sellers through its online portal. Interested residential solar buyers visit the portal, input details about their locations, energy needs and reasons for wanting solar and EnergySage turns that information over to solar installers who then bid on the projects. EnergySage reports that millions of consumers use their site, which gives them an excellent view into trends in the industry.

“In 2020, people spent more time in their homes, but they also spent more on their homes,” said EnergySage CEO and founder Vikram Aggarwal. “At the same time, the consumer mindset has shifted, with interest in resiliency increasing significantly, whether due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, the wildfires and power shut offs in the West, major storm events in the East, or, most recently, the winter storm in Texas. We’re excited–and proud–that the solar and storage industries are helping consumers to become more resilient and keep the lights on under any circumstances.”

Key insights from the latest Solar Marketplace Intel Report

H2 2020 saw the largest drop in solar prices since 2017:

  • Quoted solar prices dropped by 3.5 percent on EnergySage between H1 2020 and H2 2020, the largest decrease since the first half of 2017. In fact, the percent of quotes below $2.50 per watt nearly doubled between the first and second half of the year on EnergySage.

Installers are quick to quote the newest equipment:

  • As evidenced by a jump in higher wattage solar panels quoted on EnergySage, solar companies are quick to learn about–and begin to sell–the newest technology available on the market: while two-thirds of quotes included sub-330-watt panels in H2 2019, 330 W–and larger–panels accounted for 69 percent of all quotes in H2 2020.

Batteries

Other interesting findings around the desire for energy storage are also in the report. EnergySage found that more homeowners are seeking energy storage for resilience than for any other reason. According to the report, 15% of consumers want PV+Storage so they can go completely off the grid. Another 34% of consumers want to increase their own use of solar and adding a battery helps them do that because they can use the stored solar energy when their panels are not producing energy. But 69% of consumers requesting a quote for PV+Storage say they want the battery for back-up power.

In terms of energy storage technologies, LG Energy Solutions overtook Tesla as the most quoted storage brand in Q4 2020, according to EnergySage. In Q4 2020, nearly 40 percent of quotes on EnergySage included LG Energy Solutions, making it the most quoted storage brand on EnergySage. Tesla remained the least expensive storage option quoted. Batteries that utilize lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry are quoted at much higher prices than batteries with nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) chemistry on EnergySage.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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