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First Solar Breaks $1/Watt Barrier for Photovoltaics

aaFirst Solar announced it has broken the $1 per watt price barrier in manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) solar module.

Since 2004, First Solar has decreased its manufacturing costs from over $3 per watt to 98 cents per watt in the fourth quarter of 2008. Mike Ahearn, First Solar chief executive officer, said in a press release he is confident the company can reduce costs even further.

A new study by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab found that costs of installed solar have dropped from $10.50 per watt in 1998 to $7.60 per watt in 2007. Researchers found that the reduction in nonmodule costs including labor, marketing, overhead, and inverters, was responsible for most of the overall decline in costs.

First Solar’s PV modules also have the smallest carbon footprint of any current photovoltaic technology, the company said, including the industry’s first and only comprehensive pre-funded, end-of-life module collection and recycling program. Over 90 percent of each collected module can be recycled into new products.

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2 thoughts on “First Solar Breaks $1/Watt Barrier for Photovoltaics

  1. Well congratulations to First Solar for driving the price of solar power down with their thin-film panels and excellent manufacturing processes. So what I am wondering is if PV panels are now $1/watt, Inverters are under a $1/watt, copper has dropped significantly in price, mounting racks/rails are dirt cheap then why oh why does it cost so darn much to have a solar PV system installed?

    I challenge LBL to back their $7.6 / watt installed claim as my continual research at the residential power level in California indicates the rates are in the $9.50 to $11 range.

    It appears that the industry is merely taking advantage of the ITC and utility incentives/rebates to line their pockets with profits at the expense of the consumer.

    The solar industry better start to regulate itself and curtail the practice of fleecing the consumer. Otherwise the government is going to step and and demand accountability perhaps to the point of regulating prices.

    Actually – given the recent stimulus bill with billions earmarked for renewables maybe now is exactly the right time to bring the government in to drive some sanity in the pricing models that are being forced on consumers and ultimately taking away much needed tax dollars that could be used to drive further solar/wind/natural gas deployments.

  2. Jack Pouchet:

    I don’t understand why you are outraged. Subsidies always raise the price of a good or service. The hybrid tax credit just got added to the price of the car. This is the same thing.

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