Technology Advances Needed for Photovoltaics to Achieve Widespread Grid Price Parity

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Abstract: To quantify the potential value of technological advances to the photovoltaics (PV) sector, this paper examines the impact of changes to key PV systems parameters on the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). The parameters selected include module manufacturing cost, efficiency, degradation rate, and service lifetime. NREL’s System Advisor Model (SAM) is used to calculate the lifecycle cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for residential, commercial, and utility-scale PV systems within the contiguous United States, with a focus on utility-scale. Different technological pathways to the Department of Energy’s SunShot goal of PV electricity that is at grid price parity with conventional electricity sources are illustrated. In addition, the impact of independent changes to individual parameters on 2015 baseline costs is shown. These results may be used to identify research directions with the greatest potential to impact the cost of PV electricity.