Cost of Solar Energy Lower Than Usually Reported, Study Says

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The cost of photovoltaic solar energy systems is not nearly as expensive as some energy analysts have projected, according to a new study from Queen’s University in Ontario.

In fact, Queen’s researcher Joshua Pearce predicts that solar photovoltaic systems are approaching the “tipping point” at which they will be capable of producing energy at about the same price as traditional energy sources.

In a study published in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Pearce says that many recent analyses of the costs of photovoltaic solar power — which typically include factors such as installation and maintenance costs, finance charges, life expectancy of the system, and the amount of electricity — have ignored the 70-percent reduction in solar panel costs since 2009.

While one 2010 study calculated the cost at $7.61 per watt of electricity produced, Pearce says the cost is actually less than $1 per watt for panels purchased in bulk, although system and installation costs can vary significantly. Pearce also created a calculator to determine the cost of solar power, which is available for download.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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