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Re-considering the Economics of Photovoltaic Power

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Morgan Bazilian, Ijeoma Onyeji, Michael Liebreich, Ian MacGill, Jennifer Chase, Jigar Shah, Dolf Gielen, Doug Arent, Doug Landfear, Shi Zhengrong
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This paper investigates the recent reduction in solar photovoltaic (PV) system costs and market prices. The authors aim to dispel misconceptions about the price of solar PV in comparison to other power generation options. They find that crystalline-silicon PV modules achieved a significant milestone in 2011 on their path to reaching cost-competitiveness with traditional generation technologies. For the first time, factory-gate prices fell below $1 per watt. They also find that levelized cost of energy estimates and grid-parity comparisons between solar PV and traditional generation technologies can be misleading and have become outdated.