Since the 1980s, solar installations have seen a steady decline in pricing, leading to further adoption by residential and commercial entities alike. While the costs of installation, backup batteries, and control systems have continued to rise, this still hasn’t outstripped the falling prices of the solar panels themselves.
In order to get a better idea of what the future holds, Near Zero, a nonprofit energy research organization, conducted an expert solicitation, drawing on industry, chemical, and university experts.
While their collective predictions are by no means carved in stone, the general consensus seems to indicate a continued decline in solar installation prices.
As more companies, especially up-and-coming Chinese manufacturers, get into the market, competition is bound to drive prices further down. From this competition, the number of solar installations is forecast to increase ten times between 2010 and 2012. this rate of expansion could continue the same until 2025. Near Zero’s forecast, though, is highly dependent on the drop in solar panel pricing.
According to the research, the average cost of a solar installation in 1980 was $18 per Watt. Currently, solar installation pricing averages slightly less than $2/W and is expected to drop to 75¢/W by 2020. As with all forecasts, there is some degree of uncertainty.
Solar installations certainly aren’t a new technology, but recent developments and increased manufacturing capacity have renewed the viability of solar installations. Forecast declining solar installation costs will most likely lead to increased adoption, especially by residential and small businesses, who don’t have the available funds of bigger corporations.