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.