Monday, March 9, 2009

True Cost Of Solar Energy ‘Remarkably Low’

Photon Consulting/March 6, 2009

Three segments of the solar value chain — c-Si modules, thin film modules and BOS — are racing toward cost structures of $1/W. However, macro-economic challenges are driving many solar executives, investors and industry observers to worry about the breakdown of specific companies.

But where are these breaking points? Where will the sector break-even bar be set? And what will it take to break away from the pack? The answer to all these questions begins with cost. This report, The True Cost of Solar Power: Race to $1/W, provides a detailed roadmap of the benchmarks and cost structures that matter most for the solar sector and its companies through 2012.

At the sector level, our most important take-away from three years of cost benchmarking research is that the “true cost “of solar power is remarkably low even now. Today, the average cost of a c-Si module is well below $2/W, with the fully-loaded cost of a system below $4/W. This equates to a levelized electricity cost, without incentives, of less than $0.20/kWh in sunnier environments. Best practice is already far below this level, and the emergence in the next three years of cost structures of $1/W at the module plus $1/W at the BOS levels will enable the levelized cost of solar electricity below $0.10/kWh.

At the corporate level, our most important finding is that a select group of companies – including First Solar, LDK Solar, Q-Cells, REC, SolarWorld, SunPower, Suntech, Yingli and others – have emerged as low-cost leaders in the race. This report provides detailed cost analysis for hundreds of solar companies in-depth coverage of more than 20 cost leaders and potential cost leaders.

As the solar sector enters 2009, facing both heightened risk and great opportunity, we hope The True Cost of Solar Power: Race to $1/W will serve as a useful reference for solar decision-makers.

Read the original report here

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