Solar Panel Cost
Raw silicon crystaline cells are produced near the $3 per watt level now, but there
are still additional costs to mount them into rugged, weatherproof panels.
Over time, as production capacity increases, larger scale production efficiency improves,
better materials are developed,
and competition increases, the costs of solar cells should drop considerably.
For now, while fossil energy is still cheap, incentive programs are needed to give the industry a boost in that direction.
In Germany and Japan, where electricity is expensive and roof areas are small, there
is a demand for higher efficiency panels, despite the increased costs.
Austin energy is trying to encourage local companies to produce solar panels and
cells by increasing the subsidy rate to $6.50 per watt, for locally manufactured
panels. It is a difficult balancing act to trade off efficiency, area, cost and availability
of different solar panels.
The per-panel cost entered into the calculator should include the purchase of the
panel and the additional costs of mounting brackets and the installation for each panel. This will
make the calculator give more accurate results as you do what-if experiemnts, adjusting
the input numbers.