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Utility-Scale Solar 2014: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States

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This report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory draws on the expanding amount of empirical data to conduct analysis of the utility-scale sector. Notable findings are listed below:

Installation Trends: Tracking devices are increasingly used, especially for ground mounted, single-axis, thin film projects. The market is expanding outside the Southwest into the Southeast. Three large CSP projects began operation in 2014 unlike the year before when no CSP projects were completed.

Installed Prices: Median installed PV project prices fell to $3.1/WAC for the projects completed in 2014. The three CSP projects priced higher ranging from $5.1/WAC to $6.2/WAC.

Capacity Factors: Capacity-weighted average cumulative capacity factor across all PV projects is 27.5%, but has a wide range around this central number. The variation is due to the level of solar resource at individual sites, if the array has a tracking mechanism, the invertor to load ratio, and type of modules used.

PPA Prices: Levelized PPA prices for utility-scale PV have fallen by ~$10/MWh in the past two years.

Unprecedented construction of solar capacity is expected to be done in the time before the end of 2016 drop of the ITC from 30% to 10%.