When Will The U.S. Make Solar Cheaper Than The Grid?
Luckily for us here in Australia, solar parity, the point at which solar power is as cheap or cheaper than power provided by the grid, is already a reality. Here is an interesting article about how far off the U.S. is from that goal. Here's an excerpt:
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory this week said that rooftop solar panels have the potential to generate nearly 40 percent of electricity in the U.S. But what about the cost of going solar?
Many people ask when the cost of producing power from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be equal to or less than buying from the grid – a point called “grid parity” that could accelerate solar adoption.
But in asking the question, they often compare apples to oranges and forget that the answer varies from place to place and from one type of installation to another.
For example, electricity from utility-scale solar systems (typically large arrays where panels slowly change tilt and orientation to face the sun all day) usually costs less than electricity produced from solar panels fixed on someone’s home. Also, residential electric rates, on average about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in in the U.S., are much higher than wholesale electric rates – the price utilities pay to power generators – which are usually less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
At the same time, different states have more or less sun – solar power in Florida is typically more economic than in Alaska, for instance. All of these factors make the question more complicated than people might anticipate.
How, then, can we compare the cost of rooftop solar to the cost of buying power from the local electricity grid and thereby find when which states will hit the point of grid parity?