Pennies from Heaven

A photovoltaic (PV) solar cell the area of a dollar bill can generate about 50c per year of electricity with today’s technology and market. In a few years this will double to one dollar of energy for every dollar-sized area of solar cell (about 100cm2).
With moderate improvements in solar conversion efficiency and peak-pricing credits for energy generated, 100cm2 of solar cell could generate 100 cents/year, every year for 30 years. Free money – like pennies from heaven – from the sun.
The installation cost of solar generation is $6.50/Watt for a residential PV system, making the ROI or payback about 18 years before incentives. (Federal and state incentives can reduce the payback time by 33% or more depending on your state and county programs). For large commercial or utility scale systems, the installation cost is ~$4/Watt or less today. The DOE’s SunShot program has set a goal of $1/Watt by 2017 and $0.75/Watt by 2020. The payback under that scenario would be about two years.

SEIA Year-End Executive Summary

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