A recent article by way of pv-magazine.com details the idea that the costs of producing solar cells may be levelling off, and even slightly increasing in some cases.
Much has been written on this site about the total costs involved with getting solar installed on a residence. A breakdown of those costs can be found here in the – cost of solar panels page. The main point is that the cost of solar panels does not represent a major part of the costs involved with going solar. In fact, it’s only about 25 percent. So if the costs involved with solar panel production changes, it won’t have a major impact on total costs.
Before we discuss the details in the article, let’s touch on the primary components of a solar panel, which are cells and modules. About 60 solar cells consitute a module and multiple modules are used to construct a solar panel. Panels are also made of tempered glass, an anti-reflective sheet, a polymer sheet, and a frame, which all add up to the total costs invlolved.
Solar cells are used to create two different types panels, monocrystalline and polycrystalline (or multicrystalline). Mono is more expensive due to manufacturing processes and offers higher energy production efficiencies.
Getting back to the PV Magazine article, we’ll consider the price changes happening currently concerning solar cells. The article gives two different pricing perspectives, one based in China, and the other for pricing elsewhere. In this case, we’ll only look at non-Chinese pricing. Here’s some very summarized pricing information from the article –
Multicrystalline – Prices have fallen slightly this year and are now between $0.103 and $0.133 per watt.
Monocrystalline – Prices have risen this year and are now between $0.137 and $0.165 per watt.
Since the total cost of a solar panel is on average about $0.75 per watt, we can see that solar cells make up approximately one sixth of the cost of a panel. Also, panels are one fourth of the total cost to have a solar panel system installed, so solar cells represent one twenty fourth of the total costs involved.
The implications of this article seem fairly obvious. Those that are waiting for prices of solar panels to decrease before they go solar may be waiting in vain. In fact, as the article mentioned, solar cell prices of the higher efficiency type are actually increasing. This is an indication of a mature market, in some respects.
It’s unfortunate so many homeowners and business owners are not aware of pricing trends concerning solar power. Many more would choose to invest in solar power now if they had this information.
Of course, any discussion of solar nowadays should also mention energy storage. Many individuals might be waiting for viable battery solutions to come online before they go solar. In some markets, solar plus storage already makes economic sense. In other markets, it won’t be long before implimenting solar plus storage solutions makes sense. At that point, the utilities will no longer have a monopolistic control over the production and distribution of energy.
That day is just around the corner.