Brit Liggett

Price of Solar Energy Predicted to Fall to $1 Per Watt by 2013

by , 06/20/11

solar energy cost, solar power cost, solar panel cost, solar cell cost, solar array cost, how much does solar power cost, solar power per watt, solar energy per watt, renewable energy cost, grid parity, solar energy grid parity

According to a report released today from the independent consulting firm Ernst & Young, the price of solar energy per watt is expected to fall to $1 by 2013, down from $2 in 2009. The association says in a recent report that the price per watt of solar energy is already down to $1.50 in 2011 and should continue to fall in the near future reflecting reductions in the cost of materials and advancements in efficiency. The report notes that though the price of solar power may be high right now, if governments around the world invest in the infrastructure to support solar power they will be ready to take full advantage of the sun’s energy by the time it becomes more affordable.

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Though the report was compiled specifically by Ernst & Young for the Solar Trade Association (STA) and mostly reflects trends for solar energy in the UK, it holds promise for other solar-focused countries as well. The report notes that solar energy should attain grid parity — meaning it will align in cost with other traditional forms of energy — by 2020 in the UK and that is all without taking into account any future subsidies the government might set in place.

It seems that STA asked Ernst & Young to compile the report in response to a decision from the Committee on Climate Change which said that government investment in solar energy did not make sense because of the current high price of solar. Today’s report from Ernst & Young all but negates their statement by saying that though it may be expensive now, the cost will come down and any government that doesn’t assist in its installation will fall behind. “Being a laggard has never been very successful in terms of capturing the greater share of the value added for the economy,” Ben Warren, the lead author of the Ernst & Young report, told Guardian UK, “if you create a sustainable market, you will achieve cost savings and drive economic benefits in terms of tax income and job creation.”

+ Solar Trade Association (STA)

Via Guardian UK

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3 Comments

  1. lne937s June 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    @lazyreader:

    It is $1 per watt of generating capacity, not watt hour of energy produced. If you are getting the equivalent of just 5 hours of peak sun a day over the 25 year lifespan of the panels, it works out to 45,625 watts. $1/45.6kW= $.0219 per kWh.

    New nuclear (which typically takes over a decade to install) is already more expensive than solar.
    http://www.grist.org/list/2011-06-10-why-youll-soon-have-solar-panels-in-3-easy-graphs

  2. lazyreader June 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

    *Typo* meant to say “barrier poses no risk to the environment”

  3. lazyreader June 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    One dollar per watt. Coal only costs 3 cents per kilowatt so the average house in America may only cost in electricity less than a few dollars a day. Germany spent 156 billion dollars buying solar panels from China and overall it accounts for a fraction of a fraction of 1 percent of all their electricity. They still have to pay 9 billion a year buying solar power off the grid as part of the feed in tariff agreement.

    China is adding currently 100 gigawatts of coal fired electricity a year and other countries are soon following in it’s footsteps. We rich people of the planet can’t stop the other 6.5 billion people from burning the tons of carbon fuels they have within easy reach. Let alone make a dent in global emissions. They involve too much involvement by very poor people that can’t easily change their ways. And those poor people are also components to the global economy. And if we are dumb enough to let carbon fears send our jobs to their shores and they’ll grow even faster and carbon emissions would grow faster still. We will never be able to force those people to leave their coal, oil, and minerals in the ground. It’s too valuable. It’s all they have, they’ll drill it, dig it, find a market for it and we’ll burn it. Those poor countries have easy access to trillions of tons of coal and oil and access to the other carbon sinks, the rainforests. They will squeeze it like a sponge and do it cheap unless something cheaper comes along and that’s gonna take a lot of ingenuity. Those poor people control the carbon and are responsible for most of it. The rich burn more individually, but those billions of poor have a lot more children. And the poor countries have made it clear they are the least bit interested in spending for a low ‘carb-on’ diet. It’s whether or not the markets can give us something cheaper than carbon fuels. Renewable energy is typically too low in energy density. Windmills today are as tall as 50 story skyscrapers with blade diameters wider than a 747′s wingspan, yet generates a miniscule 2 or 3 megawatts. ou get the same power from a diesel generator that could fit in your walk in closet. A Boeing 747 needs over a hundred megawatts to stay in the air. Google is building 100 megawatt servers and data centers just to move your emails around. Simply being able to meet New York Citys energy needs would require nearly 50 thousand windmills spinning at full speed around the clock, scattered across the state because you need more that’s needed to make sure they’ll be in the windy spots at any given day. What the hell was the mayor Bloomberg thinking when he said you could just tuck them into Manhattan. There would be no room for actual buildings. These energy sources are very dilute. Look at Moores Law which shows how efficiency, speed and power of solid state electronics improves each year and the costs are cut in nearly in half. Renewable technologies are not moving down in the declining cost curves we would see with laptops and cell phones. When you replace conventional with renewable, the devices get bigger not smaller and costs rise instead of decline. Jobs will just go to where energy is cheap because industry and factories require vast sums of energy, you can’t compete when your paying 3 times as much for energy to make various products. Green jobs means Americans paying other Americans to chase carbon around while the rest of the world is building power plants and factories where the rest of the world is less efficient and less careful. Those poor countries will not trade 3 cent coal for 15 cent wind or 30 cent solar and trying to force those expensive technologies on other desperately poor nations. According to the International Energy Agency has shown that investment in renewables has gone down not up. But the price you have to beat is 3 cent coal. And even coal is getting more efficient. 50 years ago it took 10 pounds of coal to run a light bulb for 1.5 hours. Today we do the same thing for less than half a pound. The technology for reducing costs in renewable energy may very well reduce the costs of conventional power. They may end up bringing costs down to 2 cents. Geothermal power holds promise to deliver power cheaply and unlike wind and solar is not affected heavily by weather conditions. However with near one-third failure ratios even in geologically active areas, it’s a risky capital venture to just drill for a hot spot let alone how long it will last. The famous Geysers plant in California lost nearly half it’s original power output due to natural steam depletion. Now they have to pump waste water from neighboring counties to provide steam.

    We must bite the bullet and unleash the nuclear genie or at least enhance research to make reactor tech an affordable asset in the near future. Nuclear waste is a manageable affair. It’s not waste it’s spent fuel (of which only less than 4 percent is waste), most of which is still useful uranium that is just too hot to use now. The risk of plutonium proliferation is mute when you consider the nations that do it already have it. Deep bore holes thousands of meters underground hold key to storing actual waste indefinitely. Once you drill the hole and deposit the waste, you fill it back up with the material you drilled. The thickness of the natural barrier of kilometers of rock will safely isolate the waste from the biosphere for a very long period of time posing a threat to the environment. The deep borehole concept can be applied to any amount of waste. For countries that do not rely on nuclear power plants, their entire inventory of high-level nuclear waste could perhaps be disposed of in a single borehole. Even the spent fuel generated from a single large nuclear power plant operating for multiple decades could be disposed of in fewer than ten boreholes. Another attraction of the deep borehole option is that holes might be drilled and waste emplaced using modifications of existing oil and gas drilling technologies. The environmental impact is small. The waste handling facility at the wellhead, plus a temporary security buffer zone, would require about one square kilometer of land. When the borehole is filled and finally sealed, the land can be returned to a natural condition.

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