Economic Analysis of Residential Solar Photovoltaics in the Continental United States by Climate Region
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Solar energy is a growing and largely untapped market for residential renewable energy. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can have the potential to offer homeowners reduced electricity bills and a chance to lower their personal greenhouse gas emissions; however, there are several factors that impede PV adoption by homeowners. Capital costs, installation costs and incentives, local net metering rules, unknown resale value added to the home are some examples but another is aesthetics. Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) have the opportunity to address the aesthetic value by appearing to be a seamless part of a residential roof. However, it is unknown whether or not BIPV is economically competitive with the more conventional building applied photovoltaics (BAPV) or with a traditional shingle roof with grid supplied electricity for that matter. To address these economic questions, research was performed by using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) System Advisor Model (SAM) software to simulate BAPV (applied) and BIPV (integrated) solar roofing to generate two economic indicators, namely net present value (NPV) and levelized cost of energy (LCOE). These economic indicators were compared for the applied (BAPV) and integrated (BIPV) roofing PV systems to a traditional shingle roof. This analysis was done for BAPV and the BIPV system across the seven climate regions in the continental United States represented by seven cities for three system sizes along with three inverter types for BAPV and for one inverter type for BIPV. BAPV systems were economically favorable by both NPV and LCOE over a traditional shingle roof in cities where there was both strong net metering policy and incentives. Cities where both of these conditions were not met had at least one economic indicator that suggested a BAPV system did not make economic sense. Inverter type and system size did not significantly change the result. No BIPV system had competitive NPV or LCOE that is mainly due to the higher cost of BIPV compared to BAPV.
Building Applied Photovoltaics
Building Integrated Photovoltaics
Net Present Value
Levelized Cost of Electricity
Lau, Vincent Wungka (2019). Economic Analysis of Residential Solar Photovoltaics in the Continental United States by Climate Region. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from