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Cost-Reduction Roadmap for Residential Solar Photovoltaics (PV), 2017–2030

This report presents a potential roadmap for achieving the 2030 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) residential 2030 photovoltaics (PV) cost target of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour by identifying and quantifying a plausible range of cost reduction opportunities and mapping how these opportunities could influence system costs in key market segments.

This report examines two key market segments that demonstrate significant opportunities for cost savings and market growth: installing PV at the time of roof replacement and installing PV as part of the new home construction process. Between 2017 and 2030, an estimated average of 3.3 million homes per year will be built or require roof replacement, representing a residential PV technical potential of roughly 30 gigawatts per year.

The report identifies and defines four key cost-reduction opportunities that could have a significant impact on the installed cost of residential PV through 2030: market maturity, business model integration, product innovation, and economies of scale. To assess the potential impact of these specific cost-reduction opportunities, the report compares modeled residential PV system costs in 2030 to NREL's U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2017.

The report models four pathways that could be pursued to achieve low-cost residential PV in 2030. The two less-aggressive pathways represent a more conservative shift from current technologies and business practices, whereas the two visionary pathways represent a higher level of innovation. All four modeled pathways demonstrate significant installed-system price savings over the Q1 2017 benchmark, with the visionary pathways yielding the greatest price benefits. The largest modeled cost savings are in the supply chain, sales and marketing, overhead, and installation labor cost categories.

Overall, the report's results suggest that it will be challenging but possible to achieve the SETO 2030 residential PV target. Achieving the SETO target via either pathway will require very aggressive reductions in hardware and soft costs driven by the development of new technologies, services, and business practices.

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This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office.