Module Pricing

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Retail Price Summary - March 2012 Update

The long downward trend in retail module prices continued in March. Reductions in Europe were much more pronounced than in the United States.

Long term movement trends in retail module prices can almost always be traced to adjustments at the factory gate. In turn, the factory gate prices are driven by the global supply/demand balance, by cuts in production costs, and by changes in government incentives stimulating demand.

European markets have been around 80% of global PV demand during the last five years. However, over recent months, there have been sharp cutbacks in incentives in Europe to reduce demand growth and also the total funding cost of those subsidies. These cuts are actually an outcome of government programs that have been successful in creating demand, but also importantly helping to bring down the unit cost of solar photovoltaics.

Another underlying driver of the retail module price reductions has been caused by a change in module supplier mix. Over the past five years, European, Japanese, and US manufacturers have lost share to Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers.

This month, there were 89 price reductions and just 33 price increases, somewhat similar to the 107 price reductions and 23 price increases the previous month. The last time the number of price rises were more than decreases was November 2010.

Lowest Retail Prices ($/Wp)

Currently, 329 solar module prices are below $2.00 per watt (€1.48 per watt) or 34% of the total survey. In February, there were 302 price points below $2.00 per watt (€1.52 per watt), 31% of the survey.

The lowest retail price for a multicrystalline silicon solar module is $1.06 per watt (€0.78 per watt) from a German retailer. The lowest retail price for a monocrystalline silicon module is $1.10 per watt (€0.81 per watt), also from a German retailer. Brand, technical attributes, and certifications do matter. The lowest thin film module price is $0.84 per watt (€0.62 per watt) from a Germany-based retailer. As a general rule, it is typical to expect thin film modules to be at a price discount to crystalline silicon (like for module powers). This thin film price is for a 105 watt module.

Price Index Context

The module cost is around 35-40% of the total installed cost of a solar energy system. Prices are based upon the purchase of a single solar module and are exclusive of sales taxes. Information on volume discounts, factory gate, and PV system pricing is available as part of our consulting services.

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