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Report Says Residential Solar Getting Cheaper, Installations More Efficient

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Thursday, December 16 2010 under: Solar News, Solar Homes, cost of solar power, financing, residential, solar cost, NREL

Results released today from a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report is great news for homeowners looking to install solar energy systems.

The 37-page report includes cost analysis of 70 percent of the residential solar energy systems in the United States. It finds that, between 1998 and 2009, the cost of home solar installation has fallen by 30 percent. Moreover, in 2010 alone, installations have dropped by 14 percent in California and 16 percent in New Jersey, the two states leading the nation in residential solar installations.

So the same-sized system that went for nearly $11 per watt in 1998 can now be bought today for around $6 per watt in those states. To get a clearer picture of the currently solar market in the entire country, check out the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Open PV Project, which keeps a running, real-time tally of the number of photovoltaic (PV) installations in the country (77,366), today's average cost per watt ($7.15) and the nation's current solar capacity in megawatts. The data are reported on a voluntary basis, so the numbers aren't comprehensive. Nevertheless, the site provide a helpful glimpse into solar power costs around the country.

As for the report, the price reduction is clearly good news for homeowners worried about the cost of installation. But the steep decline in price also indicates that competition within the industry is heating up, and therefore driving prices down. Most important, with innovation being the key factor among companies battling for their spot under the sun, we can expect development of more efficient solar panels to rise quicker than previously predicted.

If this price trend continues, the solar industry may soon be able to stand on its own without government incentives. There's been much debate recently about how long federal, state and utility incentive programs will have to keep the industry moving forward. But while we're heading closer to a day when those programs won't be needed, we're not there yet. Even with the price drop, the upfront cost of residential solar energy systems still falls between $25,000 and $40,000 before any incentives are taken into consideration.

That's where financing options come in to play. Qualified homeowners throughout the country can choose the financing route and pay a monthly payment toward owning the system that is usually less than their utility bill. So now, there's really no excuse. Use GetSolar's Solar Calculator today and find out how much money you can save each month with a solar energy system.

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