The Department of Energy announced today the solar industry has achieved the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the SunShot Initiative. When DOE launched the SunShot Initiative, it set ambitious goals to make grid-connected solar electricity market-competitive with other forms of energy, without subsidies, by 2020. Three years earlier than expected, the average price of utility-scale solar is now 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Residential- and commercial-scale solar costs have also come down steadily, lowering to 16 and 11 cents per kWh respectively, and work continues to reach the 2020 cost targets of 10 and 8 cents. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory report, low module prices have been the largest driver of cost reductions, while the more stubborn “soft” costs—like labor, permitting, interconnection, customer acquisition, financing, and grid integration—remain challenges.
As it continues to work toward the remaining 2020 goals for commercial and residential solar, the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is looking to 2030 with a new vision to address the nation’s critical energy challenges: grid reliability, resilience, and affordability. Over the next decade, SETO will focus on the remaining challenges that constrain the growth of solar, while halving the cost of solar.
With support from SETO, the solar industry has been able to drastically cut costs that have enabled technological innovation and market growth, making America a leader in research and innovation in the energy sector. In the last 10 years, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased immensely -- from 290 megawatts in 2008 to an estimated 47.1 gigawatts in 2017 -- enough to power the equivalent of 9.1 million average American homes and representing more than 1.5 percent of the nation’s electricity supply. Learn more about how the SunShot Initiative’s research has impacted every step of the going solar process.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory, PV Benchmarking Report
- News release: Energy Department Announces Achievement of SunShot Goal, New Focus for Solar Energy Office
- Photography: A collection of high-quality solar photography can be found on the DOE Flickr page