National Lab Report: Tracking the Sun

Price of Going Solar Dropped by Half Over Last 5 Years

Affordable Solar is Ready to Improve Health, Resiliency and Economic Opportunity for All Americans

August 12, 2015: OAKLAND, Calif. and NEW YORK — The average price of going solar in the U.S. has decreased by more than 50% over the past five years, according to a report released today by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Vote Solar and the Center for Social Inclusion celebrate the news of solar’s increasing affordability and urge policymakers to continue expanding solar access to more Americans.

Installed Prices Continued their Rapid Descent through 2014

Tracking the Sun chart

The full report, Tracking the Sun VIII: The Installed Price of Residential and Non-Residential Photovoltaic Systems in the United States, is available at:

“Tracking the Sun helps illustrate how far solar power has come in the U.S., and just how great the opportunity is before us to build a better energy system,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy organization. “Affordable solar is empowering families, schools and businesses to produce their own clean electricity, and this is in turn creating jobs and healthier communities. Let’s build on this success by continuing to enable more Americans to plug into the solar power they want.”

“Low-income communities and communities of color look to community-owned and distributed renewable energy as a pathway to build a more resilient economy and society,” said Anthony Giancatarino, Director of Policy and Strategy at the Center for Social Inclusion, a national policy organization. “For many of these communities, a key barrier has long been the issue of affordability. Tracking the Sun shows that the decreasing cost of solar is making this pathway possible, not only for low-income and people of color, but all of us.”

The latest edition of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s “Tracking the Sun,” an annual report on solar photovoltaic (PV) prices in the U.S., examined more than 400,000 PV systems installed between 1998 and 2014, as well as preliminary data from the first half of 2015. The report found that 2014 marked the fifth consecutive year of significant decrease in the pre-incentive installed price of solar. The report showed year over year price reductions of 9 to 21% from 2013 to 2014 and that reductions continued apace in early 2015. The report attributes the majority of recent price declines to successful efforts to reduce non-panel “soft” costs including permitting and consumer acquisition.

Cost-competitive solar is creating new opportunities to connect Americans with clean energy. Last month the White House announced an exciting package of public, private and non-profit initiatives to broaden solar participation among low- and middle-income Americans and make our growing solar workforce the most diverse sector of the U.S. energy industry. New York State also made news by establishing an innovative Shared Renewables program that will expand solar access among renters and low-income communities. States and communities can build on solar progress by upholding successful policies – including net metering and Renewable Portfolio Standards – and by continuing to find new ways to expand consumer access to affordable solar.

There are now more than 20 gigawatts of solar installed in the U.S., enough to power over 4 million average American homes according to the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. This clean, reliable power reduces the need for expensive and polluting traditional power plants, improving health and well-being in our communities. The growing solar market has also injected billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and created local jobs in all 50 states. According to The Solar Foundation, there are now nearly 174,000 solar workers in the U.S.

About Vote Solar:

Vote Solar is a grassroots non-profit organization working to combat climate change and foster economic development by bringing solar energy into the mainstream nationwide.

About the Center for Social Inclusion:

Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) is a national policy strategy organization that works to dismantle structural racial inequity. CSI works with community groups and national organizations to develop policy ideas, foster effective leadership, and develop communications tools for an opportunity-rich world in which we all will thrive.


Media contacts: Rosalind Jackson: 415-817-5061,
Dennis Chin: 212-248-2785 x1450,

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