Depending on how you count, this is my sixth post in a row here about solar. I’ll do my best to discuss something non-solar next time.
CY 2014 was the first year the Minnesota Department of Commerce required electric utilities to report on the total installed cost of distributed generation sources (like solar!) in their annual reporting on DG. Prior to that, they’d just been reporting the amount of resources that were interconnected. LBNL recently put out Tracking the Sun VIII, a report on national cost trends, so I thought I would compare.
I was kind of surprised to find out that in Minnesota, we’re basically right on track with national price trends. It would be nice to look at older data, but it doesn’t exist in the reports.
Nationally, installation prices have fallen an average of over 12 percent each year since 2009. If those kinds of cost declines continue, residential solar could be sub-$2/watt by the early 2020’s. Even in wintry Minnesota, sub-$2/watt rooftop solar (the most expensive kind of solar) begins to look competitive with natural gas and coal on a levelized cost basis.
The next Minnesota DG reports come out on March 1, 2016.