It is already now old news that the price of solar modules this year has fallen through the floor, but a new study shows that labor and other costs to install a home solar panel system have also come down.
According to the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab's) fourth annual PV cost tracking report Tracking the Sun IV, the cost of installing photovoltaic systems in the country fell by around 17 percent between 2009 and 2010.
In the first half of 2011, costs have decreased by a further 11 percent. The primary reason for these falling costs, say the Berkeley Lab researchers, is the dramatic reduction in the prices of photovoltaic modules. But the non-module costs, including labor, marketing, overheads, inverters, and the balance of systems, have fallen by around 18 percent between 2009 and 2010, both for residential and commercial solar energy systems.
That is a huge decline in costs not related to the cost of the actual solar modules. What is most important to note is the drop in the costs are not related solely to module prices.
An article in U.S. News & World Report summarizes the trend in the solar market rather succinctly: "The past 12 months have featured one of the most dramatic price drops in the history of the solar market, according to industry figures."
Falling prices and economic incentives have propelled more homeowners to install solar energy systems on their homes. The article reports that "The longer-term trend is also evident: Nationwide, the number of homes installing solar has gone from under 10,000 annually in 2006 to nearly 50,000 in 2010."
And for those who may think that solar is a one state phenomenon, read California, this just in from USA Today: "For the first time, California no longer reigns as the U.S. state with the largest commercial solar market, and it's lost that spot to -- surprise, surprise -- New Jersey, according to a report Tuesday on the booming solar industry."
And what is good news for the consumer is the conclusion of the Berkeley Lab researchers that "International experience suggests that greater near-term cost reductions in the United Statesare possible..." Homeowners throughout the country seem prepared to get on the solar bandwagon.