Price of silicon pv cells per watt over time

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Price of silicon pv cells per watt over time

Postby FarmerJohn » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:18 am

Here is an interesting graph I saw today which shows one of the costs of solar power over time from 1977-2013


(It isn't clear to me if this is inflation adjusted)

Source (THe Economist): ... ny-uplands
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Re: Price of silicon pv cells per watt over time

Postby Tracker » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:32 am

Also interesting that we have heard many references to pv being under 50c a watt.

Only problem is how much is Chinese Govt. Sponsorship...

I would imagine that the European price might be more representative.
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Re: Price of silicon pv cells per watt over time

Postby Smurf1976 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:21 pm

I (and you) can easily buy a single panel, delivered to your door, for $1.10 per Watt.

That's the retail price for a single unit including freight. No bulk discounts, no haggling, not even looking around for a better price. It's just what comes up with a quick Google search.

So you can be pretty sure that if I wanted a whole shipping container load of those same panels then they'd be quite a bit less than $1.10 per Watt. I don't know how much exactly, but pretty much everything is cheaper in bulk than as a one off purchase.

An important point however is that the cost of PV itself is no longer the key determinant of the cost of solar-generated electricity.

Mounting hardware - for a large installation this alone could cost half as much as the actual panels. For a single panel mounted on a pole, the pole + other hardware will cost more than double the price of the actual PV panel itself.

Inverter - depending on the nature of the installation, this also could cost as much or even more than the PV panels.

Electrical parts - for a small household system, the miscellaneous bits and pieces such as switches, cables, conduit and so on can easily end up as a significant % of the total cost these days.

And of course there's always labour too to add in.

Add all that up and there isn't much benefit from a further fall in solar panel prices in terms of the overall cost of using them. Even if PV prices drop to half current levels, it only ends up as a modest reduction in the total price once everything else is included. Looking forward, inverter prices will probably drop and there's some potential for mounting rail etc prices to fall simply due to increased competition. But there's not much chance of labour going anywhere but up given the increasing regulations both regarding the final result and how it is achieved (OH&S etc).

We're at the point where efficiency gains in the PV panels themselves are the most attractive prospect. Historically it didn't really matter since there's plenty of sunlight and with the high cost of PV the key measure was $ per Watt. But now that labour and mounting systems cost as much as the panels themselves, there's a huge potential saving if the efficiency could be increased thus reducing the physical size of the panels per Watt of output. Less labour and less other materials would be required to install a system. Also the related point that PV is now cheap enough and that whilst the world isn't running out of sunlight, individual sites certainly are experiencing limits on installed capacity due to physical space whereas previously the limit would always have been finances to buy the panels.

There's a lot of similarity here to the history of large scale electricity generation from fossil fuels and hydro. At first it was all small scale and limited by affordability. But then costs dropped and all sorts of other limits started to appear. Air pollution from coal was one, physically moving all the coal to city power stations was another, cooling water use was another and so on. And with hydro there are plenty of examples of small early developments which in due course made way for much larger plants using the same water resource once it became necessary to focus on maximising production.
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Re: Price of silicon pv cells per watt over time

Postby franks » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:52 am

I get my PVs from a local wholesaler last lot 70 cents + GST per watt, he said with the Aussie $ dropping..expect to pay 75-80cents per watt + GST now..still a hell cheaper than when I got my 1st PVs @ march 2011 1.90per watt.
I only wish battery storege prices drops as well :?
3.04kW Grid Tie system 16 of 190W PVs, Samil 3.3kW
3.8kW PV Stand Alone Off Grid.. 5-8kWHr Per day
24 of 190W PVs
Midnite Classic 150 & Lite MPPT
8 of 6V 600 AH flooded cells (24 volt 1200 AH)
Outback VFX3024E Inverter Charger
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