Is $1 a Watt Possible for Solar?

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The Department of Energy earlier this year unveiled a program, called SunShot, geared to bring the price of solar down to $1 a watt by 2017 and to 73 cents by 2030.

But is it possible? Crystalline silicon modules now sell for $1.48 perwatt, with the cost of fully installed solar systems topping $3 to $4.per watt.

Modules will have to drop to 50 cents to hit the $1-per-watt goal. Theinstallation and balance-of-system costs will have to plunge from around $1.70 to 40 cents. Inverter costs will need to drop to ten cents perwatt.

The industry has a long record of driving down costs. Modules alone cost $21.83 back in 1980 in current dollars. Compare that to other forms of energy. Oil cost $28 a barrel back in 1982. Now it’sover $100. Cement, steel, construction and soft costs like legal andplanning have caused the costs of coal, gas and nuclear to fluctuate. So score one for the Moore’s Law-like power of solar.

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