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Renewable Energy Costs Dropping: Treats, Not Tricks

“The price of utility-scale solar power is 59 percent below where analysts thought it would be at this point back in 2010.” ~Jeff Spross, ClimateProgress, quoting recent National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) reports

Chart illustrating the dropping cost of pv solar power cells.
Cost of PV Cells Dropped an Amazing 99% 1977-2013, Bringing Solar Power to Grid Parity (Image Source:

Halloween is a season of tricks and treats, but renewable energy and energy efficiency seems to offer mostly treats these days.

According to ClimateProgress, which summarizes NREL’s recent report Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections (2014 Edition):

  • The leveled cost of solar power (taking full account for the cost of installation, maintenance, investment, depreciation, and all the other factors in an energy source’s life cycle) is already just as cheap as the equivalent cost of conventional electricity in countries like Italy and Germany.
  • Solar’s leveled cost is anticipated to become competitive with that of natural gas in nearly every country in the world by 2025.
  • Between 2012 and 2013 alone, the price of a solar system your neighbor or your local businesses owner might install on their roof dropped 12 to 15 percent.
  • The price of these solar systems could fall another 3 to 12 percent by the end of 2014.

ClimateProgress states that “Utility scale solar — which generally includes projects at 5 megawatts or higher — had a median price of $3.00 per watt for projects already completed in 2014, and $1.92 per watt for projects expected to be installed in 2013.”

All of this is “good news for the Energy Department’s Sunshot Initiative, which helped fund the report, and which aims to drop the cost of solar technologies 75 percent from 2010 to 2020 by funding various universities, national laboratories and private sector projects.”

Competency-Based Energy Efficiency Training Builds a Qualified Workforce

In the More Good News Department, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) also just released its Trends Shaping our Clean Energy Future report.

According to IREC, key topics include:

  • How best practices are growing smart shared renewable programs, interconnection policies and quality workforce development.
  • How strategies to efficiently inspect and permit residential solar rooftop systems are bridging regulatory and quality workforce training initiatives.
  • Nationally, there’s a vocal, cross-industry dialogue on competency-based training – on building a qualified workforce for tomorrow’s jobs. (We at Ecotech Institute echo IREC’s sentiments and are glad to be a part of this dialogue!)

IREC’s U.S. Solar Market Trends publication (July 2014), similar to NREL’s findings, reports that residential photovoltaic capacity grew by 68 percent in 2013.

Now that’s something to celebrate. And, unlike eating too much Halloween candy, we won’t risk a tummy ache for enjoying all these sustainability treats.

Kyle G. Crider (MPA, LEED AP ND) is a professional science and sustainability “story teller.” In his spare time he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary (Environmental Health) Engineering and traveling the highways and by-ways of home state with his wife Beverly in search of fact, fiction, and folklore for Strange Alabama.