In tandem with a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on PV installation ‘soft costs’, an NREL and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) supported cost reduction roadmap with industry participation is to be launched.

“Soft costs are the majority of costs for residential solar and a large minority for commercial PV projects. They have remained stubbornly high in recent years despite impressive hardware-costs reductions,” said Jon Creyts, programme director at Rocky Mountain Institute. “Aggressive soft-cost-reduction pathways must be developed to achieve the SunShot Initiative’s PV price targets.”

The new NREL report, ‘Non-Hardware (‘Soft’) Cost-Reduction Roadmap for Residential and Small Commercial Solar Photovoltaics, 2013–2020’, leverages NREL’s ongoing benchmarking analysis of soft costs, while the SunShot soft-cost target reduction goal has been set at US$0.65/W for residential systems and US$0.44/W for commercial systems by 2020, significantly lower than current costing of projects in the US.

Kristen Ardani, NREL solar technology markets and policy analyst, added: “Regardless of the specific path taken to achieve the SunShot targets, the concerted efforts of numerous photovoltaic market stakeholders will be required. This report illustrates how the required participation of each type varies substantially by soft-cost-reduction category while noting that roles and responsibilities will be complementary and evolve over time.”

According to the report, data complied in 2010 had soft costs totalling US$3.32/W for a 5kW residential system and US$2.64/W for a small commercial system (250kW and smaller), representing approximately 50% of the total installed residential PV system price (US$6.60/W) and 44% of the total installed small commercial system price ($5.96/W). The SunShot Initiative aims to reduce the installed-system price contribution of total soft costs to approximately US$0.65/W for residential systems and US$0.44/W for commercial systems by 2020.

This would lead to total installed system prices of US$1.50/W for residential installations and US$1.25/W for commercial.

The new roadmap takes it lead from the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) and the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics
(ITRPV) coding system and structure.

NREL noted that an initial roadmap meeting with potential industry participants would occur in Chicago, immediately before the Solar Power International event on October 21.