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IRENA Analyzes Deployment and Cost of Solar Photovoltaics

IRENA6 June 2012: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a new report titled “Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Solar Photovoltaics,” finds significant increases in installed capacity of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the past decade has resulted in considerable cost reductions, but that installed costs vary per country.

Calling solar PV systems the most democratic renewable technologies due to their modular size, which makes them easily available for individuals and small businesses, the report provides an overview of solar PV technologies, current global PV market trends, solar PV cost and performance, PV system cost reduction potentials, and the leveled cost of electricity from solar PV. It shows that global installed PV capacity has multiplied by a factor of 37 in ten years, and that cumulative installed capacity grew more than 70% in 2011, which has led to significant cost reductions.

The report finds that the total installed cost of PV systems vary widely both within and between countries, reflecting, inter alia, the: maturity of the domestic market; local labor and manufacturing costs; and incentive levels and structures. The report mentions that in some cases, such as with crystalline silicon PV, module costs have fallen so much that they become competitive with residential electricity tariffs in many countries with good solar resources. However, the report also finds that despite the declines in PV system costs, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of PV remains high.

The report is part of IRENA's Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series, a set of five reports on wind, biomass, hydropower, concentrating solar power and solar pholtovoltaics that address the current costs of key renewable power technology options. [IRENA Press Release] [Publication: Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Solar Photovoltaics]