Breakeven Prices for Photovoltaics on Supermarkets in the United States

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The photovoltaic (PV) breakeven price is the PV system price at which the cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid. This point is also called 'grid parity' and can be expressed as dollars per watt ($/W) of installed PV system capacity. Achieving the PV breakeven price depends on many factors, including the solar resource, local electricity prices,customer load profile, PV incentives, and financing. In the United States, where these factors vary substantially across regions, breakeven prices vary substantially across regions as well. In this study, we estimate current and future breakeven prices for PV systems installed on supermarkets in the United States. We also evaluate key drivers of current and future commercial PV breakeven pricesby region. The results suggest that breakeven prices for PV systems installed on supermarkets vary significantly across the United States. Non-technical factors -- including electricity rates, rate structures, incentives, and the availability of system financing -- drive break-even prices more than technical factors like solar resource or system orientation. In 2020 (where we assume higherelectricity prices and lower PV incentives), under base-case assumptions, we estimate that about 17% of supermarkets will be in utility territories where breakeven conditions exist at a PV system price of $3/W; this increases to 79% at $1.25/W (the DOE SunShot Initiative's commercial PV price target for 2020). These percentages increase to 26% and 91%, respectively, when rate structuresfavorable to PV are used.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages40
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-57276


  • big-box
  • breakeven
  • business
  • commercial
  • electricity
  • EnergyPlus
  • grid parity
  • load data
  • load profiles
  • national
  • OpenEI
  • photovoltaics (PV)
  • prices
  • rate structures
  • retail
  • rooftop
  • SAM
  • solar value
  • supermarkets
  • System Advisor Model (SAM)
  • United States
  • utility rate database
  • utility rates


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