According to the latest report from Photon Consulting the ‘true cost’ of solar power has fallen rapidly in the last year, driven by low cost producers in both China and Taiwan in particular. In its latest cost benchmarking report, ‘The True Cost of Solar Power: How Low Can You Go?,’ Photon Consulting estimates that the sum-of-average cost of a c-Si module has now reached U$1.67/W and the sum-of-average cost of a c-Si system is U$3.51/W.
This converts in to a levelized cost for solar electricity of <$0.18/kWh in sunny environments. Although market leader, First Solar has already reached the U$1/W manufacturing cost level, the market research firm expects cost leaders in c-Si modules and other thin film module technologies are also closer than ever in reaching the U$1/W milestone.
“Downward-trending ASPs, incentive policy uncertainty and intensifying cost competitiveness from highly efficient Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers make a thorough understanding of PV cost a strategic necessity for every solar company,” noted Joonki Song, Photon Consulting’s senior cost analyst and co-author of the report. “Leading companies and supply chains are rapidly closing in on the $1/W all-in cost bar – an achievement that will likely be a key factor in separating long-term winning solar companies from the rest of their peers.”
Cost reductions have been assisted by lower silicon input costs for leading Asia-based c-Si producers, while throughput and utilization rate advantages have supported lowest-cost manufacturers like First Solar.
Downstream, increasing scale and standardization for PV systems in larger markets has seen costs reduced, the report highlights.
Photon Consulting estimates that a small group of companies have the potential to lower their all-in cost well below $1/W by 2013.
In the previous report issued the same time last year, Photon Consulting had noted that its cost benchmarking had has identified only 35 players with potential for achieving very low costs, which include, First Solar, LDK Solar, Q-Cells, REC, SolarWorld, SunPower, Suntech, and Yingli Green.