Berkeley Lab releases updated distributed solar dataset

December 14, 2020

We are pleased to announce the release of Berkeley Lab’s Distributed Solar 2020 Data Update. These data are available in the form of a public data file, interactive data visualizations, a graphical slide deck summary, and summary data tables.

The release provides an updated overview of data and trends for grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, defined to include roof-mounted systems of any size plus ground-mounted systems up to 5 MW in size. This year’s update includes data on more than 1.9 million systems installed through 2019, collected from utilities, state agencies, and other organizations across the country. In aggregate, the dataset covers 82% of all distributed PV systems installed nationally through 2019.

As in prior years, the data update focuses to a large degree on installed prices reported for distributed PV projects, describing both historical trends and variability in pricing across projects. With respect to the historical price trajectory (Figure 1), national median installed prices fell, from 2018 to 2019, by roughly 1% for residential systems, remained essentially flat for small non-residential systems, and fell by 4% for large non-residential systems. Across all three customer segments, these are the slowest annual percentage declines since 2006-2008.

Figure 1. National Installed Price Trends
Notes: Based on a subset of the overall data sample, excluding third-party owned (TPO) systems, systems with battery storage, and self-installed systems. Small and Large Non-Residential systems are differentiated based on a 100-kW size threshold. See data update materials for further details on component-level pricing trends, state-level trends, and trends in reported pricing for TPO systems.

Pricing continues to vary widely across individual projects (Figure 2), reflecting, among other things, differences in system sizing and design, installer-level pricing strategies, and local market conditions. For example, among residential systems installed in 2019, the lowest 20% were priced below $3.1/W, while the highest 20% were above $4.5/W. The distributions for non-residential systems exhibit similarly wide spreads. 

Figure 2. Installed Price Distributions for 2019 Systems
See data update materials for installed price comparisons by system size, state, installer, module efficiency level, inverter type, mounting type, and site host type.

In addition to data on installed prices, the data update also covers a broad range of trends related to distributed PV system design, including:

  • system sizing
  • module efficiency
  • module-level power electronics
  • inverter-loading ratios
  • solar+storage installations
  • mounting configuration
  • panel orientation
  • third-party ownership
  • customer segmentation.

Further details on those and other elements of the data update can be found at:

We thank the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office for their support of this work, as well as the numerous individuals and organizations who generously provided data for this ongoing effort.