The cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy has dropped far and fast in the U.S. Utility-scale solar generation costs, for example, have plummeted 75 percent over the past six years. That's well ahead of the 2020 goal set by the Dept. of Energy's SunShot Initiative, which Pres. Barack Obama launched in 2011, and makes it competitive with the cheapest, conventional, fossil fuel generation.
The rapidly declining cost of solar PV cells and modules, a.k.a., solar panels, has been the main factor driving the total costs of deploying a solar energy system – whether utility, municipal/community, commercial/industrial or residential – ever lower. That's true on an absolute and relative basis – PV panel and hardware costs continue to decline as a percentage of total solar energy system installation costs.