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How Much Does Solar Power Cost?

How Much Does Solar Power Cost?

Currently solar power is more expensive than other methods of producing electricity. However, utilities using fossil fuels and nuclear are able to provide a lower price, in part, because of government subsidies and incentives as well as the avoided cost of pollution control, and NOx credits in some places. It is also important to remember that as supplies of fossil fuels continue to be depleted their price will increase. Solar technologies on the other hand will become less expensive as they evolve into more efficient forms. With solar power, along with some batteries for backup, one is also paying for the extra reliability with their increased resistance to the simple line failures of standard utility electricity.

There are different parts of the whole system to consider when looking at price. There is the price per watt of the solar cell, price per watt of the module (whole panel), and the price per watt of the entire system. It is important to remember that all systems are unique in their quality and size, making it difficult to make broad generalizations about price. The average PV cell price was $2.01 per peak watt in 1999 and the average per peak watt cost of a module was $3.62 in the same year. The module price however does not include the design costs, land, support structure, batteries, an inverter, wiring, and lights/appliances. With all of these included, to buy a full system it can cost anywhere from $7 per watt to $20 per watt. So, for example, if you wanted to put in a 10 kilowatt-hour per day system in an area with on average 5 hours of sun a day, you will need a 2 kilowatt system. At $7 a watt it would cost about $14,000. With most average homes drawing from 1 kilowatt to 2 kilowatts, a system of this size would offset a significant portion of load during hours of maximum sunlight, maintenance free for 15-20 years.

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